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PIA Press Release

Feature: Methamphetamine production, trafficking and abuse continue to rise in East Asia and the Pacific

Quezon City (30 August) -- Methamphetamine continues to dominate the East Asia and Pacific region, according to the 2007 report on patterns and trends in amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) in East Asia and Pacific released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The report highlights that closer monitoring of synthetic drugs is warranted and the notion of East Asia being dominated by opiates and the "Opium Triangle" is out-dated. Recent clandestine drug laboratory seizures indicate that methamphetamine is produced on an industrial scale. Seizures of so-called "super-labs" have occurred in both Malaysia and Indonesia over the past 3 years.

Sixty-four clandestine drug laboratories producing methamphetamine were seized in the region in 2006 according to the most recent reports, compared with 48 in the previous year. The final figure is expected to reach over 100 for 2006, with final seizure reports still coming in from China.

Almost 40 million methamphetamine pills were seized in the region in 2006, along with 8.4 tons of crystal methamphetamine. This is an increase from 2005 of almost 15 million methamphetamine pills and 1.4 tons of crystal methamphetamine.

Seizure of methamphetamine pills increased significantly in Myanmar, seizing 19.1 million pills in 2006 compared to 3.6 million in 2005. Crystal methamphetamine seizures increased in China, up from 5.5 tons in 2005 to 5.95 tones in 2006.

More than 40 percent of total drug-related arrests in 2006 involved ATS among the 10 countries that disaggregated arrest data by drug category.

All 13 profiled countries (Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam) cited ATS as a drug of abuse, with 6 reporting methamphetamine as the primary drug abuse problem in 2006 (Brunei, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Philippines and Japan). Three countries also ranked methamphetamine as the second drug of abuse (Australia, China and Viet Nam).

The trend in ATS abuse has been on a continuous increase in at least one form of ATS since 2003 or 2004 in eight of the countries (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam).

Comparatively, four of the countries ranked heroin as the primary drug abuse problem in 2006, however three of the four reported a decline in the heroin abuse trend during the year. (China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Viet Nam reported heroin as the primary drug of concern, but only Viet Nam reported an increase in 2006).

Regional seizures of heroin in 2006 amounted to 6.6 tons, down by about a third compared to the preceding year and less than half of the 2004 level.

Methamphetamine pills, known as yaba or yama, are the predominant form of methamphetamine in the Mekong sub-regional countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam, while the crystal form (ice or shabu) is the main form in Brunei, China, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore. Crystal methamphetamine is associated with considerably higher purity than methamphetamine pills.

Reported seizures and abuse trends suggest that prevalence of crystal methamphetamine may be increasing in Cambodia, China and Thailand.

The UNODC maintains a Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific to promote and facilitate actions against drug abuse and trafficking, transnational organized crime, human trafficking, money laundering, corruption, and terrorism, through cooperative partnerships in the region.

The full report is available at For further information, contact: Mr. Jeremy Douglas, Regional Project Coordinator, UNODC Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific, 3rd Fl., United Nations Building, Raj Damnern Nok Avenue, Bangkok 10200 Thailand, Tel: (+66 2) 288 2491, Fax: (+66-2) 281 2129, E-mail: . (PIA) [top]

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