United Nations Says Illegal Meth Manufacturing Is Spreading

By John Lavitt 10/20/14

Meth manufacturing has spread in developing countries thanks to lax government regulation and minimal police intervention.

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According to the United Nations Office On Drug And Crime (UNODC), the illegal manufacturing of meth is proliferating to different parts of the globe, particularly Africa and the Middle East.

Traditionally concentrated in either North America, primarily Mexico and the United States, or East and South-East Asia in countries like China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, the cheap manufacturing of crystal meth has spread like wildfire worldwide.

The latest UNODC's Global SMART Update study shows that methamphetamine manufacturing has recently spread to other countries such as Guatemala, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. Reported on by the UNODC at the end of September, the latest update also reveals that some countries in Africa and the Middle East have recently emerged as important regions for methamphetamine supply.

In comparison to methamphetamine production in Europe that remains at low levels, the manufacturing in the developing countries is expanding rapidly thanks to a combination of fewer government regulations, and minimal criminal monitoring and police intervention. Moreover, the easy access to profitability despite the dangers of meth lab explosions and toxic waste byproducts makes the lure of methamphetamine manufacturing too great to inhibit.

Although manufacturing methodology varies throughout the world, most regions continue to rely on the use of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine as precursors to methamphetamine production. The UNODC views the threat of synthetic drugs like methamphetamine, ecstasy-type substances, and new psychoactive substances (NPS) as a significant worldwide drug problem. After marijuana, amphetamine-type stimulants are the second most widely used drugs in the world, easily exceeding the use of both cocaine and heroin combined.

As a response, the UNODC launched in 2008 the Global SMART Program. Although the SMART Program did improve the capacity of countries in East and South-East Asia and, more recently, Latin America to generate and manage information on illicit synthetic drugs, including reporting and ongoing monitoring, the program has had little to no impact in Africa and the Middle East. Given problems presented by socioeconomic difficulties, religious extremism, and an overall lack of infrastructure, it is questionable whether the institution of the SMART Program in these new drug territories will be effective in the future.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.