Southeast Asia is the second largest producer of opium in the world. It is also a growing market for amphetamine-type stimulants, especially methamphetamine, the top illicit drug threat in East and Southeast Asia, where seizures of methamphetamine in both
Increased economic integration in East and Southeast is expected to lead to a rise in regional trade in heroin and methamphetamines, the UN said Tuesday.
"Rapid regional integration provides ample incentives for international drug trafficking syndicates," said Jeremy Douglas, regional representative for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The UN office estimates that the region last year produced about 1.5 billion methamphetamine tablets and 900 tonnes of opium, with most of the illicit drugs originating in Myanmar.
While heroin and methamphetamines may be produced in Myanmar, primarily in the northeastern Shan State, which is largely outside government control, the country is dependent on imported precursor chemicals to manufacture these drugs.
Acetic anhydride, for instance, must be imported to produce heroin, while ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are needed to manufacture methamphetamines.
The UNODC warned that an increases in trade liberalization under schemes such as the Asean Economic Community, which goes into effect next year, could lead to an increased trade in these precursors.