Joint INCB/UNODC training: supporting authorities in addressing illicit drug manufacture in South-East Asia and the Pacific

Bangkok (Thailand), 19 April 2024 - In South-East Asia and the Pacific, organized crime groups are turning to the use of so-called designer precursors, resulting in a growing amount of chemicals being diverted from licit markets. To address this, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), together with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), is strengthening the capacity of competent authorities in the region to address these diversions.

Criminal networks have proven their ability to circumvent regulatory controls, enabling them to divert and traffic massive quantities of chemicals in the region.

Recent INCB/UNODC training held in Bangkok set out to raise awareness and improve the understanding and use of electronic tools and reporting mechanisms for precursor control to prevent the diversion of chemicals into illicit markets. These tools include Precursor Export Notification Online (PEN Online), PEN Online Light, and the Precursors Incident Communication System (PICS). Tailored to the specific needs and challenges of the region, the training was part of ongoing efforts to strengthen capabilities to combat both chemical diversion and illicit drug manufacture.

The joint training showcased the various tools that can be leveraged to improve monitoring of chemicals, materials, and equipment that may be used in illicit drug manufacture, with a specific focus on both chemicals internationally controlled under the 1988 Convention as well as various non-controlled chemicals that have also been encountered as substitutes.

Not only about chemicals

Chemicals that are used for illicit drug manufacture often move across borders and may be diverted from licit industries. Monitoring exports and imports of certain chemicals is one of the ways to disrupt illicit drug manufacture.

In addition, with the activities of illicit drug manufacturers becoming increasingly sophisticated, authorities are also focusing on monitoring the equipment used in illicit manufacture, such as glassware or pill-pressing machines.

Course participants were also given information on PICS, a tool that allows law enforcement authorities to exchange information about precursor trafficking incidents, and on estimates of ' Annual Legitimate Requirements', which provide an indication of the legitimate volume of certain chemicals imported by licit industries.

During the three-day training, INCB held bilateral discussions to address country-specific issues. The focus was on the importance of raising awareness about increasing flows of a variety of both controlled and non-controlled chemicals through the region. The main synthetic drugs that affect the region are amphetamine-type stimulants - methamphetamine, amphetamine, and ecstasy - which are also one of the most trafficked group of drugs in the world.

Competent authorities attending the training came from Cambodia, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Thailand, and Viet Nam. Similar training by UNODC will take place in key locations this year to address precursor chemical challenges in the region.

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