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Gangs from Africa in Asian drugs' market

29 November 2011, 13:35

Bankok - International drug gangs from Africa and Iran are muscling in on Southeast Asia's booming methamphetamine business which has shown a staggering increase and is spreading through the region, the United Nations said in a report on Tuesday.

Amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), including amphetamine and methamphetamine, have become the drugs of choice in many parts of Southeast and East Asia since the 1990s, replacing plant-based drugs such as heroin, opium and cannabis, the U.N. drugs office said.

The stimulants can be easily made anywhere from a variety of materials and precursor chemicals and bring huge profits for little investment, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said.

Increasing use of the drugs was reported from most countries in the region in 2010, the office said, while the illicit making of the drugs was thriving despite the seizure of 442 manufacturing facilities and nearly 136 million "speed" pills.

African crime gangs which used to deal in cocaine and heroin had diversified into ATS trafficking while gangs from Iran had been identified as a significant drug-trafficking threat in the region, it said.

"African groups are involved in trafficking crystalline methamphetamine, ecstasy and heroin into Indonesia, and have used Cambodia as a centre for financial tansactions and for the distribution of illicit drugs to Indonesia," the U.N. office said in a report.

"In Japan, the proportion of seized methamphetamine that was trafficked into the country from Africa increased 7.4 percent in 2009 to 36 percent in the first half of 2010."

Change of tactics

In Malaysia, the number of African couriers arrested almost doubled in 2010 to 65, including 50 Nigerians, it said.

"To avoid detection, African drug trafficking organisations have diversified their methods by using couriers from countries in the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia and by diversifying their trafficking routes."

Iranian gangs are also getting joining the business.

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- Reuters


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