Bangkok will host regional drug fighting office

pix - 1Bangkok will host the offices of a new regional drug-fighting agency that will engage in sharing information, preventing crime, and suppressing narcotics-related activities. The ASEAN Narcotics Cooperation Center will involve the 10 nations of the Association of Southeast Asians Nations plus China, South Korea and Japan.

The announcement came the same week that Thai authorities burned over seven tons of seized illegal narcotics with a street value of roughly $650 million. The narcotics included methamphetamines, crystal methamphetamines, MDMA, heroin and opium. The incineration took place under the watch of Deputy Prime Minister Yongyuth Yuthavong and Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin at the Bang Pa-in Industrial Estate in Ayutthaya province to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

Also present were officials from the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), the Thai agency that will host the ASEAN Narcotics Cooperation Center in its offices. Drug trafficking in many cases is a transnational crime controlled by transnational syndicates, and so greater cooperation is needed between countries in the region to combat it effectively.

The ASEAN Narcotics Cooperation Center will be initiated in three phases. The first phase will be devoted to building a network among countries to obtain and share information, creating an “ASEAN Drug Report” to monitor the situation in the region, and establishing an agenda for resolutions.

The second phase will deepen the cooperation, so countries can set guidelines for information linkages as well as related procedures and coordination to ensure that the project and overall cooperation are sustainable and consistent.

The final phase will include the development of a database to help monitor and continuously enhance cooperation among countries, which would lead to the establishment of a “Center of Excellence,” according to Permpong Chaovalit, the Secretary General of the ONCB.

Although some amphetamines and other drugs are produced in the Kingdom, most narcotics found in the region are manufactured in neighboring countries and smuggled into or through Thailand.

Northern Thailand is part of the Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand converge. For decades it was known as the largest source of opium and heroin in the world. However, Thailand eliminated almost all opium and heroin production decades ago, in part with the help of crop substitution programs launched by constitutional monarch King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

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