Transcontinental Express: Asia's Law Enforcers Face Synthetic Drug Proliferation
Broadhurst, Roderic, Transcontinental Express: Asia’s Law Enforcers Face Synthetic Drug Proliferation, Jane’s Intelligence Review, August 2017: 42-45
4 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2017
Date Written: August 1, 2017
The development of new synthetic drugs, not dependent on variable opium, cannabis, or coca crop yields, has transformed important aspects of the criminal drug trade. Producing and distributing synthetic drugs has become easier and cheaper than for traditional illicit drugs, and harder to detect. The result is an efficient, profitable, and global illicit market that has revitalised traditional crime groups and further challenged the ability of law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies to identify and control the misuse of these drugs. This paper notes:
- The growth of synthetic drug markets in Asia has contributed to the creation of highly profitable transcontinental routes in which networks of criminal groups trade precursors or manufactured synthetics for crop-based drugs.
- Law enforcement operations in China since 2014 have served to displace some production to Southeast Asia, but China, India, and Myanmar are likely to remain the largest producers and exporters of synthetic drugs and precursor chemicals in Asia.
- A transnational, intelligence-led law enforcement response is more likely to be capable of effectively tackling the networks of criminal groups that enable this trade, while a prohibition-based strategy risks leading to increased levels of violence in affected states.
Keywords: Organised Crime, Synthetic Opiates, Transnational Crime
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