Illegal drug trade still thriving in Asia, Australia amid coronavirus pandemic: UN

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Illicit drug markets in the Asia-Pacific continue to expand and diversify and appear to be largely unaffected by the coronavirus outbreak, the United Nations said on Friday.

The production of methamphetamine, the most popular drug in the region, continues to hit record highs while prices fall to new lows in East and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report that compiled data from 2019 to first quarter of 2020.

“It is hard to imagine that organized crime have again managed to expand the drug market, but they have,” said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

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“While the world has shifted its attention to the COVID-19 pandemic, all indications are that production and trafficking of synthetic drugs and chemicals continue at record levels in the region.”

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Inshik Sim, a UNODC Illicit Drugs Analyst, told Reuters that recent intelligence suggested that there had been no change in the street price of methamphetamine in Bangkok or Manila, the capitals of Thailand and the Philippines and the biggest markets for the substance in Southeast Asia.

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