Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Dire warning on meth trade

Dire warning on meth trade

Two Laotians arrested for drug trafficking stand at a Stung Treng provincial police station earlier this month as authorities lay out seized methamphetamine pills. Military Police
Two Laotians arrested for drug trafficking stand at a Stung Treng provincial police station earlier this month as authorities lay out seized methamphetamine pills. Military Police

Dire warning on meth trade

The trade in methamphetamine in the Greater Mekong Region including Cambodia is growing at an exponential rate and capacity to combat the problem is a “big challenge”, according to the UN’s top drug official in Southeast Asia.

Senior officials from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam met representatives from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Wednesday to discuss how best to combat the region’s rapidly expanding drug trade and provide updates on their progress in the drug war.

In recent years, seizures of methamphetamine have skyrocketed in the region, which Southeast Asia UNODC program coordinator Nay Soe described as the meth market’s “epicentre”. By 2015, pill seizures had doubled from 150 million tablets in 2010 and crystal meth seizures were up almost fivefold from 5 metric tonnes, according to provisional UNODC figures.

Cambodian seizures more than doubled in 2015, up from 87,000 pills and 29kg of crystal in 2014.

Nay Soe said yesterday that he does not see the region’s meth problem going anywhere.

“With two precursor giants around and insecure borders, I don’t see that happening,” he said. “Right now, it’s a super profitable business.”

The UNODC estimates the Southeast Asian trade in methamphetamine to be worth $16 billion.

Precursors are chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs and are often strictly regulated. The two giants he referred to were India and China, who he said supply the majority of the region’s precursor chemicals across their porous borders with Myanmar.

India was due to attend Wednesday’s meeting but pulled out at the last minute.

Echoing a report earlier this year by the UNODC, Nay Soe said part of the problem is the growing interconnectedness of Mekong countries as transport infrastructure develops.

“They need to have a very proper border management mechanism. They also need to pay attention to the region’s development and plan to cope with the situation,” he said.

“Better connectivity could mean better flow of drugs. At the same time, the capacity to interdict is still a big challenge in Mekong states, including Cambodia. So I am really concerned about the future.”

He said that the police forces of many Mekong states, Cambodia included, lack the arms, manpower and training to win the “cat and mouse game” with drug traffickers.

However, General Secretary of Cambodia’s National Authority for Combating Drugs Meas Vyrith was not worried about the police’s ability to counter the surge in methamphetamine.

“Now we’re providing training relating to combating drugs to all police and military police,” Vyrith said, adding that Cambodia’s drug strategy was now focusing on drug users, with community treatment services being offered in clinics and referral hospitals across the country.

After receiving revised figures from the UNODC, this story has been updated to reflect the following correction: Methamphetamine and heroin in Southeast Asia are not a $16 billion business. Methamphetamine alone accounts for $16 billion in trade. The Post apologises for any confusion caused.

MOST VIEWED

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four

  • Governor: Covid subsides in capital

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng said the Covid-19 situation in the capital’s 14 districts has eased, with only two districts still recording a high number of infections. “Transmission cases in all districts are dropping, though they are relatively higher Meanchey and Por Sen Chey.

  • Hun Sen: Get 12-17 age group ready for Covid jabs

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon. “There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided