A new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warns that the synthetic drug market in East and Southeast Asia linked to the Golden triangle region is diversifying into South Asia with organised crime syndicates smuggling large quantities of methamphetamine (also known as meth or Ice) into India and Bangladesh through the Myanmar border.
“South Asia has also been further integrated into the Southeast Asian market, with methamphetamine trafficked in high volumes from Myanmar into Bangladesh and rising frequency into northeast India,” said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative while releasing the report on June 2.
Another cause for concern raised in the report is that with the law enforcement agencies cracking down on the land route in the Golden Triangle region, crime syndicates have turned to the Andaman Sea route to ship out their drugs.
“Traffickers have continued to ship large volumes through Laos and northern Thailand, but at the same time they have pushed significant supply through central Myanmar to the Andaman Sea, where it seems few were looking,” according to Douglas’s statement posted on the UNODC website.
“Transnational organized crime groups anticipate, adapt and try to circumvent what governments do, and in 2022 we saw them work around Thai borders in the Golden Triangle more than in the past,” Douglas added.
Criminal groups from across the region also started moving and reconnecting after lengthy Covid pandemic border closures, with late 2022 and early 2023 patterns starting to look similar to 2019, the report further highlights.
Indian security agencies have also made seizures of narcotic drugs flowing from Myanmar into the Northeast states in recent months tend to support the findings of the report.
The huge trade in methamphetamines and other illegal drugs, which mostly flow from super labs in parts of Myanmar, is also showing no signs of slowing down, the UN agency warned.
Shan state in Myanmar is home to the world’s largest meth trade. Traffickers ship the drugs out through the borders of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, an area known as the Golden Triangle.
UNODC said it is working closely with countries in East and Southeast Asia to monitor the drug situation, identify drug trends, and provide advice on cooperation, detection, precursor chemical control and public health strategies, as well as help countries collaborate on joint and cross-border operations.