Meth production in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand booming: UN

Taiwan-based syndicates 'indispensable' in smuggling operations

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published a report Tuesday which names the “Golden Triangle” of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos as the heart of methamphetamine production and trafficking in East and Southeast Asia.

The report also states Taiwan-based crime syndicates operating across borders play an indispensable role in operations.

Entitled “Synthetic Drugs in East and South-East Asia: Trends and Patterns of Amphetamine-type Stimulants and New Psychoactive Substances,” the 90-page publication outlines major recent trends in synthetic drug production, regional areas of great concern, and a complete profile for each country within the subcontinent.

Between 2016 and 2018, methamphetamine seizures surged in Southeast Asia from around 30,000 kg per year to almost 100,000 kg. The report suggests a drop in wholesale prices in the Golden Triangle—likely due to oversupply—has encouraged transnational organized crime groups to source from the area. Many of these groups are Taiwan-based.

Authorities dismantled six large production plants in the town of Kutkai, northern Myanmar between February and March 2018, the report states, confiscating more than 1.2 methamphetamine tablets, 259 kg of crystal meth, and 2,350 kg of ketamine.

Two major crystaline methamphetamine (crystal meth) seizures were also made the same month in Indonesia, during which over 2.5 kg of materials were confiscated—with Taiwanese syndicate members reportedly involved in both cases.

Taiwanese gang members have also been arrested in neighboring countries including Australia, Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines for involvement in similar crimes.

As well as hosting some of the region’s most notorious trafficking groups, the report suggests Taiwan has become an important source for methamphetamine since 2016.

Police busted the country’s biggest-ever discovered meth lab in April last year, confiscating NT$6 billion of crystal meth and raw materials for producing the drug.

The report also notes large quantities of the drug Erimin have been sourced back to illicit manufacture centers in Taiwan over recent years.