Documents show that 72 tonnes of blue barrels are loaded with propionyl chloride, a relatively obscure chemical that affects the northern region of Myanmar famous for the production of synthetic drugs in Myanmar. Industrial level
The merchandise was supplied by a broker located in territory controlled by the United Wa State Army, a militia force accused of raising funds through the sale of the drug for years.
There is no clear attempt to conceal the product, even if it is corrugated board. Shipping of containers has taken an unusual route across Asia instead of overland through China.
Propionyl chloride departed Jiangsu, China̵7;s north coast of Shanghai, on a boat bound for the Thai port of Laem Chabang near Bangkok. The chemicals are then transported northward by land until they reach Huai Sai in Laos, just across the Mekong River from Thailand.
The Lao authorities decided to call Jeremy Douglas for advice. Douglas is the regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and is responsible for helping governments across East Asia and the Pacific fight transnational crime. In the lower Mekong Basin, it often means drug trafficking.
News of the arrest was held until April this year, when Douglas and the Thai authorities presented it at the on-drug virtual conference organized by the United Nations World Drug Commission.
“These people are very creative people,” Douglas told the United Nations meeting.
“They’re basically pioneers and problem solvers.”
Authorities seized a record 175 tonnes of drugs in 2020 across East and Southeast Asia, a new record despite the COVID-19 epidemic, according to preliminary UNODC data. This means that these pivotal groups do not have a significant impact on the overall drug supply in the region.
But ephedrine seizures pseudoephedrine and phenyl-2-propanone (P2P), the most common chemicals used in making medicines, are generally dried. Douglas said authorities seized only 600 kg of ephedrine and 10 million placebo pills, which were “Small amount” compared to the level of drug seized by the authorities.
The expert left a puzzling question: How did you make potions?
If the recorded number of illegal drugs are seized, officials should be able to find higher quantities of the chemicals to make as well.
Experts say the conglomerate imports chemicals like propionyl chloride and hires world-class chemists to make their own ingredients to make potions, such as buying flour to make pies rather than pre-made flour.
The law enforcement community often calls these chemicals “precursors” or “indefinite substrates”. They are legally manufactured and sold. But was diverted for illegal use at one point in the supply chain.
Some precursors, such as propionyl chloride, have the right chemical use in addition to making illegal drugs. Others, known as “designer precursors,” were synthesized to make a distinction. Chemical enough to avoid government oversight. But for no purpose other than drug production
Trying to control these chemicals is often similar to a game of whacking a mole. By the time the government went through bureaucratic or legal processes to regulate the government, another new government emerged.
However, although there appears to be no end to the newly developed substrate. But the conversion of precursors into ingredients for synthetic drugs is a technically complex process involving expert chemistry.
Douglas said his office knew many substrates were seized across the Mekong. But the large amount of propionyl chloride seized in Laos was all. But it confirmed doubts that illegal drugmakers were using the process.
“On the one hand, the arrests confirmed what we and others suspected, and in recent years: the precursors have been a key player in the region’s drug trade,” Douglas said.
“Organized crime is doing more efficiently to control the traditional precursor.”
To combat drug trafficking and a common cross-border precursor, Thailand, China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam launched a joint intelligence sharing program in late 2019 called Golden Triangle Operation 1511.
All 5 countries hope to “Strengthening cooperation” to close links to human trafficking in the Mekong River Basin
From December 2019 to December 2020, Thai authorities arrested more than 16,000 people and seized nearly 450 million pills, more than 34,000 kilograms of crystal meth and more than 1 million kilograms of precursor chemicals, Thai authorities said at the United Nations committee.
Regional officials saw it as a success, although some operations derailed the epidemic.
“Based on our statistics, Operation 1511 can seize a lot,” said Paisit Sangkaphong, deputy secretary general of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB).
“However, there are other chemical reactants that pass through our checkpoints to the Golden Triangle area, this is what we need to do,” Paisit said.
The precursor is a global problem.Cornelis de Joncheere, president of INCB, calls the increased use of precursors a “Major challenges to the international drug control system” at the United Nations-sponsored committee.
These problems are becoming more serious in Asia as the illegal drug-making center in the Golden Triangle operates. Next to the world’s two largest chemical and drug manufacturers, China and India, are ready to provide access to legitimate chemicals that can be used for illegal means.
“The symbiotic relationship between the chemical and synthetic pharmaceutical businesses in Asia is undeniable,” Douglas said.
“The rise of drugs leads to more chemicals”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misleaded how many Crystal Meth seized Operation 1511 was from December 2019 to December 2020.