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Thai authorities and UNODC hold high level talks on precursor chemical trafficking

Bangkok (Thailand), 30 March 2021
- The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Thai authorities have gathered for a high-level conference in Bangkok to discuss measures to disrupt the trafficking of chemicals used in drug production in the Golden Triangle. Organized with the Office of the Narcotics Control Board of Thailand (ONCB), the conference is part a series of in-depth exchanges designed to address the challenge of precursor chemical management, coordination, monitoring and trafficking in Thailand, and the connection to the regional drug situation.
“ONCB is co-chairing the discussions this week with our long-standing partner UNODC, in-part to candidly review the way we manage precursor chemicals and to look for ways to improve, but also to demonstrate that Thailand is serious about addressing drug production and trafficking – this is a shared responsibility in the region”, commented ONCB Deputy Secretary General, Suriya Singhakamon. “Disrupting the diversion and trafficking of precursor chemicals is a top priority for Thailand, and we expect to have a new national strategy in-place later this year to address the issue. Importantly, we are considering how to improve the management of internationally controlled precursors, but also how to address the trade and trafficking of specialized and non-controlled pre-precursors which are known to be smuggled into drug producing areas.”

The conference follows ongoing discussions between UNODC and authorities in Thailand and the region about increasing chemical flows and the diversity of chemicals in East and Southeast Asia. Countries in the region, especially those in the lower Mekong region, have proven particularly vulnerable to the reach and influence of transnational organized crime groups involved in illicit drug production, with methamphetamine seizures increasing exponentially year-on-year over the last decade. In 2019, seizures reached a record 143 tons, and preliminary estimates for 2020 indicate a further increase. At the same time, while the profile of methamphetamine from the Golden Triangle seized across the region indicates it is primarily made from pseudo-ephedrine and P-2-P, seizures of these internationally controlled precursor chemicals have remained extremely low across the region.

“Organized crime groups operating in Southeast Asia have a clear demonstrated advantage when it comes to sourcing and trafficking chemicals, and recent cases confirm that massive quantities are being trafficked into militia-controlled areas in the Golden Triangle, including through Thailand and neighbouring Lao PDR – both through porous border areas and official trade channels”, remarked UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas. “The Mekong is quite literally situated between the two largest chemical producing countries, China and India, and some other countries in Southeast Asia have experienced rapid growth in their own chemical industries in recent years. It is not a stretch to say the Golden Triangle is more vulnerable than ever to diversion and trafficking of chemicals used in drug production.”

The conference is a platform for authorities to share challenges and observations, set priorities, and consider policy options to improve coordination and capacity at the national level. Important discussions concerning Thailand’s role in enhancing regional cooperation for precursor control will also take place, and will be used during coming Mekong and ASEAN discussions.

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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