Asia-Pacific drug trade thrives amid COVID-19 pandemic
18 May 2020

Illicit drug markets in the Asia-Pacific continue to expand and diversify and appear to be largely unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak, the United Nations said on Friday.

The production of methamphetamine, the most popular drug in the region, continues to hit record highs while prices fall to new lows in East and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report that compiled data from 2019 to first quarter of 2020.

“It is hard to imagine that organized crime have again managed to expand the drug market, but they have,” said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

“While the world has shifted its attention to the COVID-19 pandemic, all indications are that production and trafficking of synthetic drugs and chemicals continue at record levels in the region.”

Inshik Sim, a UNODC Illicit Drugs Analyst, told Reuters that recent intelligence suggested that there had been no change in the street price of methamphetamine in Bangkok or Manila, the capitals of Thailand and the Philippines and the biggest markets for the substance in Southeast Asia.

This, he said, showed there had been “no impact on its availability in the market”.

The pattern of drug trade on the consumer level however has shifted more to online social media platforms as government measures against the coronavirus limits people’s movement, said Thailand’s Deputy Secretary-General of the Narcotics Control Board Paisith Sungkahapong.

By Panu Wongcha-um and Tom Allard, Reuters, 14 May 2020

Read more at Reuters

Photo: Fabien [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr

RiskScreen: Eliminating Financial Crime with Smart Technology

Advance your CPD minutes for this content, by signing up and using the CPD Wallet

FREE CPD Wallet