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UNODC and Thai authorities meet about trade security and preventing chemical flows into the Golden Triangle

Laem Chabang (Thailand), 3 March 2021
- UNODC and Thai agencies working on precursor control and trade security met this week to address chemical trade and management, and trafficking into the Golden Triangle for drug production. Discussions focused on controls and the interaction of Thai Customs and other regulatory and enforcement agencies including the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), and challenges associated with non-controlled special surveillance list chemicals being traded in the Mekong region.

“Recent developments in the region have reinforced that we need to update our understanding of the type of chemicals being traded, and that it is time to improve chemical controls and interagency cooperation. This meeting of different agencies and UNODC has been very helpful for us to get started on this effort”, commented ONCB Director of Law Enforcement, Udomchai Lohanut. He added, “as Laem Chabang is the largest maritime port in Thailand and one of the leading ports in Southeast Asia, it has been an important opportunity for officers from ONCB and officials from Laem Chabang and other ports to meet and learn about recent developments and the prevention and disruption of chemical trafficking.”

The meeting was arranged following discussions about improving the monitoring and management of chemicals that have been found transiting Thailand and the Mekong region into the Golden Triangle. However, while authorities in Southeast Asia have pointed to the growing use of non-controlled chemicals in illicit drug production, current understanding of many of these substances remains limited.

“There is increasing evidence that organized crime groups have been using a variety of specialized chemicals in synthetic drug production in the Golden Triangle”, remarked Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. He added, “the profiling of methamphetamine seized in the region indicates it is made from controlled chemicals, but none of these chemicals are being seized. At the same time, specialized pre-precursors that can be used to make controlled chemicals have been seized over the last couple of years, and trade data indicate the volumes coming into the region are increasing every year. Customs have a particularly crucial role when it comes to preventing the diversion and trafficking of precursor and pre-precursor chemicals.  The meeting was very important given the role Laem Chabang plays as a gateway into the Mekong region.”

After the meeting participants visited the port which primarily serves Thailand, but also landlocked Lao PDR and, to a lesser extent, Cambodia and Myanmar.

“Coordination and being up-to-date with the latest information is fundamental for effective precursor and chemical control, and it is important that authorities here see the connection to recent changes in the regional drug market”, commented Reiner Pungs, UNODC Drugs and Precursor Programme Manager for Southeast Asia and the Pacific. “UNODC’s regional precursor programme is supporting Thailand and neighbouring countries in a number of ways to better prioritize related challenges, and to take necessary steps to address diversion and trafficking of controlled and non-controlled chemicals into illicit drug production.”

The meeting was part of a series taking place in Southeast Asia, and they will continue in key locations in Thailand and across the region.

Click here to learn more about UNODC's Regional Programme for Southeast Asia

Click here to learn more about UNODC’s work to address drug and precursor in the region

Click here to learn more about the Mekong MOU on Drug Control