07/19/2019, 10.22
THAILAND - ASIA - UN
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UN: drugs and trafficking fuelling powerful criminal gangs in Southeast Asia

Criminal groups exploit corruption, weak borders and poor controls to increase business.  Trafficking in drugs, medicines and counterfeit goods, people or animal species generate tens of billions in profits.  Casinos and banking institutions used to clean up money.  Myanmar epicenter of methamphetamine production.

 

 

Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In Southeast Asia, transnational criminal organizations are growing and gaining more and more power and importance;  the gangs can exploit the rampant corruption, the weakness of the police and the lax border controls to feed their business.  This is the alarm raised by the United Nations, according to which these groups generate profits of tens of billions of dollars each year thanks to the trafficking of drugs, medicines and counterfeit goods, trafficking in persons or animal species.

“In many parts of Southeast Asia, the systematic payment of bribes at borders is as regulated as the payment of fees in official bureaucratic systems,” the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report. Many of the cartels, based in Thailand, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, are overcoming the response capacity of the police, posing serious threats to public security and sustainable development ".

The rapidly expanding and poorly regulated casinos offer criminal organizations an easy way to launder money.  The proceeds of the crimes are cleaned up also through the traditional banking system, in free places like Hong Kong and Singapore.

The UN alarm was echoed by a Thai senator who hopes for an all-out collaboration in the fight against crime. “We are ready to take a leadership role and work with UNODC and international partners to build resilience and address cross-border trafficking,” said Prajin Juntong, who is also a former deputy prime minister.

The report highlights the "explosion" in the production of methamphetamine in Myanmar and its distribution throughout Asia-Pacific, often hidden in tea packs.  The market in the region "is today the largest in the world" underlines the representative of the UN agency for Southeast Asia and the Pacific Jeremy Douglas.  Methamphetamine trafficking "is the most dangerous and the one that guarantees greater profit", supporting the "growing power" of these criminal groups.

Last year the trade of this drug yielded between 30.3 and 61.4 billion dollars, with a decided growth compared to 15 billion in 2013. Only the markets of Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea amount to  about 20 billion, a third of the world total.

According to the latest estimates, in Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia and New Zealand there are over 12 million users who consumed about 320 tons of methamphetamine in 2018. A record 120 seizure by the  law enforcement did not affect the prices of the goods, now in decline, confirming a production that can largely satisfy the demands of the market.

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