UNODC is cosponsor of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS - UNAIDS
Precursor Chemical Control Training in Bhutan from 26 to 27 May 2008
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29th May 2008
By Tandin Wangchuk
Potassium permanganate purifies water but can also purify cocaine. Acetic anhydride is used in the pharmaceutical, textile and leather industries but can also be misused to manufacture heroin. Such chemicals are known as precursor chemicals, which are transacted illegally worldwide to manufacture drugs.
"A country need not produce precursor chemicals by themselves but can be used as a transit point by other nations or organizations, who are into illicit precursor chemical transaction," said the
regional precursor control project coordinator for United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Mr Rajiv Walia. Mr Walia was in Thimphu this week to train Bhutanese law enforcement officers on precursors chemical control and regulation in collaboration with the Bhutan narcotic control agency (BNCA). Representatives from the Royal Bhutan police (RBP), department of revenue and customs (DRC) and the Bhutan agriculture and food regulatory authority (BAFRA) participated in the two-day training.
During the training, the resource person demonstrated the use of precursor field test kits by performing tests on samples of precursor chemicals. The training also touched upon the 23 precursor chemicals listed by the United Nations, techniques of intelligence collection, investigation and the status of the current drug/precursor situation in the region.
"Bhutan at present imports less quantities of precursor chemicals but neighbouring countries like Pakistan, India, Myanmar and Afghanistan import and export huge quantities of precursor chemicals," said Mr Walia. "Afghanistan alone produces about 85 percent of the world's opium so, in future, Bhutan could end up as a transit point for illegal transaction of these precursor chemicals."
Reduction of precursor chemicals would directly reduce the availability of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances since these precursors are used to produce drugs like cocaine and heroine.
According to the survey conducted by BNCA, Bhutan imports six precursor chemicals, viz., sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, potassium permanganate, toluene, acetone and methyl ethyl ketone. All are imported from India. These precursors are imported for use in industries, retail and educational institutions.
In 2007, Bhutan imported 19,359 litres of sulphuric acid, 4,291 l of hydrochloric acid, 24,784 l of toluene, 56 kg of potassium permanganate and 12 l of acetone.