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New drug routes opening in Southeast Asia

Indonesian police after a large drug bust in November 2015. A wide array of contraband is on display, reportedly including 12kg of methamphetamine and 37,000 ecstasy pills. AAP Image/NewZulu/Ahmad Ridwan Nasution

Indonesian police after a large drug bust in November 2015. A wide array of contraband is on display, reportedly including 12kg of methamphetamine and 37,000 ecstasy pills. AAP Image/NewZulu/Ahmad Ridwan Nasution

Jakarta [AAP]

The growing amount of methamphetamine being trafficked into Southeast Asia suggests crime syndicates have set up new routes within the region and are linking previously unconnected markets, the UN has warned.

Collie Brown, Country Manager at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said on Thursday that it is believed these crime syndicates are using these new routes to move not only drugs, but also migrants and weapons.

‘People are not just dealing in one thing. We haven’t seen clear connections between drug smuggling and migrant smuggling yet but we have seen some areas where the routes look almost the same.’

He said it was imperative that law enforcement agencies within the region work together to share information so they can better police these routes and clamp down on syndicates.

His comments come on the heels of the 2015 International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) report, that describes the growing availability of crystalline methamphetamine as a ‘worrying trend’ in the region, with arrests related to the drug in Indonesia increasing significantly since 2012.

‘In recent years methamphetamine originating in Africa has been seized in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam,’ the report states.

Mr Brown urged countries in the region to also consider the importance of proportionality in their approach to law enforcement surrounding drugs, adding the region needs to also look at treatment, prevention and social integration of users.

The UN, he added, was against the use of the death penalty.

But Ali Johardi from Indonesia’s National Narcotics Board (BNN) said they will continue to pursue the death penalty for drug traffickers.

‘We not only consider the side of the suspect but also we consider the victim of the drug,’ he told reporters.

‘We are the law enforcement agency … We are not in a position to give an opinion as to whether it can reduce the effect or not (of drug trafficking).


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