Asia Pacific drug enforcement leadership consider strategies to address alarming levels of production and trafficking

October 02, 2018

Bangkok (Thailand), 2 October 2018 – The 42nd meeting of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies, Asia and the Pacific (HONLAP) has gathered in Bangkok to discuss trends in the manufacture, trafficking, and use of illicit drugs in the region, as well as strategies and operational responses to address the situation.  Delegations are also sharing information on their implementation of recommendations made at the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem, and preparations for the coming Ministerial Commission on Narcotics Drugs (CND) in 2019.

While there have been some successful examples of countering the production and trafficking of illicit drugs and precursors in the Asia Pacific region over recent years, significant challenges remain.  Methamphetamine and synthetic drugs from Myanmar and the Golden Triangle area of the Mekong region, and heroin from Afghanistan and the surrounding area known as the Golden Crescent, are severely impacting public health, causing environmental degradation, providing organized crime with a rising income, fuelling corruption, and undermining peace and financing conflict.

As the market for illicit drugs continues to expand, and the region is exploited by organized crime groups involved in the trade, identifying the routes through which illicit drugs and related precursor chemicals are being trafficked is proving increasingly important. UNODC is announcing new data at the conference as well as an in-depth situational analysis “Drug & Precursor Trafficking Routes in the Mekong Region” to inform operational law enforcement and regional security policymakers, and to set the stage for shared plans to counter drug trafficking.

Discussions on trafficking routes, border management practices, money-laundering and illicit financial flows, precursor chemical diversion and trafficking, and drug use prevention efforts, are scheduled. Through facilitated sessions participants will share knowledge and expertise they have gained as they continue to work together to improve cooperation to counter the illicit drug trade.

“Levels of drug production and trafficking in the Mekong and East Asia, and in and around Afghanistan, are unprecedented” emphasized Jeremy Douglas, Regional Representative of UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). “Drug supply is up and exceeding demand, and organized crime are effectively cultivating and growing the market. We are also seeing supply reaching markets far from production areas, particularly methamphetamine from the Mekong to Australia, Japan and New Zealand, but also powerful synthetic opioids that are easily concealed and being shipped to North America.” He added, “The situation I am describing is complex and certainly not easy to come to terms with, and the leadership and experts here need to candidly consider and discuss these challenges.  They also need to agree on practical solutions that address the range of impacts of production, trafficking and use before things deteriorate further.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister of Thailand Prajin Juntong emphasized the need to focus on synthetic drugs and precursors during his opening speech, “It is important that the delegations discuss the challenges related to expansion of drug production and trafficking in the Mekong, but also the flow of precursor chemicals used to produce the drugs.  Trafficking along and across borders is a significant challenge we must deal with together.”  He remarked further, “Powerful synthetic drugs from the area pose a significant health hazard to the youth of our country and the region. Responding will require a strategic, coordinated and more balanced approach than we have had to date, an approach consistent with what we have been discussing with the UNODC regional office, our partners of the Mekong MOU on Drug Control, with ASEAN, and at the global level in the CND.”

The Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies Asia and the Pacific is a subsidiary conference of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which is the central policymaking body within the United Nations system dealing with drug-related matters. UNODC holds related meetings annually in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime promotes the rule of law and helps countries to deal with challenges related to illicit drugs, organized crime, corruption and terrorism. The Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific works with partners throughout the region to provide research, expertise, and assistance in developing both law enforcement and development-oriented responses to the trafficking and use of illicit drugs.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime



For further information and referral, please contact:
Mr. Akara Umapornsakula
Communications Assistant
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific
+66 22 88 1906