Press Releases

    UNIS/NAR/933
    2 December 2005

    UNODC Collaborates with United States and other Governments to Examine Methamphetamine Threat

    Manufacture of Synthetic Drugs Exploding

    VIENNA, 2 December (UN Information Service) -- Officials of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Member States from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Europe participated in a digital video conference addressing the global threat posed by methamphetamines and the precursor chemicals used in their manufacture.

    The conference, held on 29 November and hosted by the Permanent Mission of the United States of America to the United Nations (Vienna), offered Vienna-based representatives of the United Nations and Member States an opportunity to communicate with counter-drug policy makers in Washington, DC, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the US State Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as well as European Commission drug experts in Brussels. The discussion focused on the growing threat posed by increased methamphetamine production around the world, and measures the international community can take to combat it.

    Methamphetamines are a growing problem across Eastern Europe, Russia, and Asia, with drug labs moving, in many cases, from west to east, and precursor chemicals generally moving from east to west. The control of precursor chemicals is an especially difficult challenge, since these substances, i.e., ephedrine and chemicals found in over-the-counter drugs and cold medicines, are not illegal or available only through prescription. Tons of precursors are transported to regions where clandestine labs operate in relative freedom, especially in countries where instability, corruption, and weak law enforcement allow manufacturers to operate with impunity.

    Methamphetamine production also offers drug cartels and traffickers an alternative to drug crops like coca (cocaine), and opium poppy (heroin), whose cultivation is dependent on the vagaries of weather and disease, which can only be transformed into a marketable product at harvest time. Because methamphetamines can be produced at will, in quantities and at intervals independent of agricultural constraints, enterprising drug lords can control production and regulate the prices of synthetic drugs.

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    For more information, contact:

    Kathleen Millar
    Deputy Spokesperson, UNODC
    Tel: +43 1 26060 5629
    E-mail: kathleen.millar@unodc.org