BANGKOK (Reuters) - Crime syndicates in Asia’s drug-producing Golden Triangle region have likely begun producing ingredients to manufacture methamphetamine, enabling them to avoid restrictions on importing precursors such as pseudoephedrine and ephedrine.
The development shows a new level of sophistication by drug syndicates as “pre-precursors” such as propionyl chloride are far less tightly regulated and easier to obtain.
“It is increasingly clear organised crime are using pre-precursors and have particularly impressive capacities in place to produce their own precursors - something nobody understood until recently,” said Jeremy Douglas, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) regional representative for Southeast Asia.
But more recently production has boomed in amphetamine-type stimulants, especially methamphetamine, or meth as it is known, with the amount coming out of the Golden Triangle rising rapidly for a decade.
Authorities in Asia seizing a record 139 tonnes of meth in 2019, up from 127 tonnes in 2018 and 82.5 tonnes in 2017, UNODC data showed.
Happily, I don't know much about the supply chain for methamphetamine manufacture. It's a bit surprising to me that folks are undertaking the manufacturing of "pre-precursors" - what's more likely, that crime syndicates are starting the manufacture of chemicals like propionyl chloride on their own, or just taking the supply from an already existing plant?
(surely you can't run a propionyl chloride manufacturing plant without being noticed?)