Chinese syndicates behind drug trade in Philippines, says US
Ethnic Chinese organized crime groups have been the primary sources and financiers of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) trafficking in the Philippines, according to the US Department of State.
In its International Narcotics Strategy Report, the department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (Binlea) has also named China and India as the “primary sources of chemicals used to make synthetic drugs,” which are increasingly being produced in the Philippines, Malaysia and Cambodia.
China is also a source of precursor chemicals, like acetic anhydride, used in the production of heroin, Binlea said, noting that the seizure of acetic anhydride in Mexico in 2011 was traced back to China.
Binlea noted that as China becomes integrated into the global economy, it is also becoming a transit point for heroin from southwest Asia.
Meth from Africa
In the Philippines, Binlea said “law enforcement agencies have noted the new trend of African-produced methamphetamine being smuggled into the country through the airports for onward distribution throughout Southeast Asia.”
“The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the National Bureau of Investigation conducted investigations that led to the identification and arrest of several African drug trafficking organization members in Malaysia,” it said.
According to Binlea, the US Drug Enforcement Administration, US immigration and customs enforcement and the Transportation Security Administration are planning to assist a newly formed airport drug task force to combat the increased use of Philippine airports by drug-trafficking organizations and improve coordination with the Philippine government’s inter-agency counternarcotics operation network.
Domestic consumption of methamphetamine and marijuana continued to be the main drug threats in the Philippines, Binlea said.
“The 2011 UN World Drug Report identified the Philippines as having the highest methamphetamine abuse rate in East Asia at 2.1 percent of the adult population aged 16 to 64,” it said.
Weak legal tools
The Philippines “also continued to face the daunting task of tackling transnational drug trafficking organizations without strong legal tools, such as provision for judicially authorized interception of criminal communications, plea bargaining and an efficient drug abuse asset forfeiture process.”
“Without these important tools, enforcement’s ability to gather evidence against high-level drug traffickers remained limited,” Binlea added.
The US state department also earlier named the Philippines as one of the 60-plus top drug money-laundering countries in the world.
Although Manila is not a regional financial center, it said it “continues to experience an increase in foreign organized criminal activity from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.”
It also called the Philippines one of its “jurisdictions of primary concern.”
The agency disclosed that “insurgency groups operating in the Philippines partially fund their activities through local crime, kidnapping for ransom and the trafficking of narcotics and arms, and engage in money laundering through ties to organized crime.”
Money laundering countries
Besides the Philippines, other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on the US government’s list of drug money laundering countries are Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore and Burma (Myanmar).
Also on the list are: Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Macau, Netherlands, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, Spain, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, US and Venezuela, among others.
The state department also identified the 22 major illicit drug production and transit countries: Afghanistan, Bahamas, Belize, bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
Named by the agency as the 15 major sources of essential chemicals used in the production of illegal drugs were Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand the United Kingdom and the United States.
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