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Asia's multibillion dollar methamphetamine cartels are using creative chemistry to outfox police, experts say

May 4, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 17.5%. 1 min read.

The shipping container raised suspicions as soon as it arrived in remote northwestern Laos last July.

It is not one of the 30 precursor chemicals scheduled by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) for use in manufacturing illicit narcotics or psychotropic substances.

If illicit drugs were being seized in record numbers, authorities should have found a higher volume of the chemicals to make them, too.

Some pre-precursors like propionyl chloride have legitimate chemical uses besides illicit drug manufacturing.

Douglas said his office knew various pre-cursors were being confiscated across the Mekong, but the staggering volume of propionyl chloride seized in Laos all but confirmed their suspicions that illicit narcotics manufacturers were using this process.

"In a sense the seizure confirmed what we and others had suspected and for the past few years: that pre-precursors are a playing a major role in the regional drug trade," Douglas said.

From December 2019 to December 2020, agents arrested more than 16,000 people and seized nearly 450 million meth pills, 34 kilograms of crystal meth and more than 1 million kilograms of precursor chemicals, Thai authorities said at the UN panel.

"The symbiotic relationship between the chemical and synthetic drug businesses here in Asia is undeniable," said Douglas.

by summa-bot

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