“There are indications of increasing methamphetamine flows from the United States to the Philippines, mostly by parcel post,” the report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.
UNODC: Meth shipments from US to Philippines increased
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - March 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Methamphetamine hydrochloride, or crystal meth, coming from the United States to the Philippines through parcel post increased in 2018, according to a new report from the United Nations anti-drug agency.

“There are indications of increasing methamphetamine flows from the United States to the Philippines, mostly by parcel post,” the report of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.

“During the first half of 2018, national authorities detected 27 parcel posts, resulting in seizures of nearly 90 kilos of the drug according to PDEA,” the report said, referring to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

The UNODC report titled “Synthetic Drugs in East and South-East Asia: Trends and Patterns of Amphetamine-type Stimulants and New Psychoactive Substances” presented the drug situation in the Philippines.

The report covers major developments and challenges in the drug market in the region, which has been undergoing a profound change for the better part of a decade driven by increases in the production, trafficking and use of synthetic drugs.

The report also warns there has been a significant increase in the production of methamphetamine, popularly known as shabu, in Southeast Asia over the past year, leading to an oversupply of the drug in the region.

According to the report, crystalline methamphetamine remains the primary drug of concern in the Philippines, as the drug accounts for an overwhelming majority of the total number of drug treatment admissions over the last five years.  

There are indications that the number of female users has increased in recent years. 

“There has been a steep rise in the number of drug-related arrests in the Philippines, primarily due to intensified law enforcement activities focused on methamphetamine,” the report said.

Despite the heightened law enforcement measures, seizures of large-scale illicit shabu manufacturing facilities, as well as trafficking of several hundreds of kilos of the drug have been continuously reported in recent years. In addition, sources of shabu trafficked from overseas into the country appear to have diversified.

Philippine authorities seized an “ecstasy” manufacturing facility in 2018 for the first time since the monitoring of trends started in 2008.

Synthetic tablets containing MDMA in combination with methamphetamine and others, known as “Fly High,” have been continuously seized in the country in recent years. 

The use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) is limited in the Philippines, according to expert perception.

National authorities have noted the increasing availability of Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GBL), sold as ‘liquid ecstasy” in the country.

“The Philippines has been increasingly targeted for trafficking of cocaine by sea, and relatively large quantities of the drug have been seized in recent years,” the report said. 

PDEA reported UNODC to have seized nearly 360 kg of the drug perceived to have been shipped from Malaysia in August 2018.

“In recent years, there has been no major methamphetamine trafficking case connected to other Southeast Asian countries reported from the Philippines,” the report said. 

The UNODC said data on seizures, prices, use and treatment all point to continuing expansion of shabu market in East and Southeast Asia.

“Seizures of methamphetamine in 2018 were once again a record, yet street prices of the drug decreased in many parts of the region indicating very high and increasing levels of availability,” said Tun Nay Soe, UNODC inter-regional program coordinator. 

While the market for shabu continues to expand rapidly in East and Southeast Asia, a wide range of NPS has also emerged in the region.

By 2018, a total of 434 NPS were detected in the region, including potent synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and its analogues.

The emergence of NPS is a significant challenge for national authorities and people in the region.

“Aside from methamphetamine which is getting most of the attention because of the surge in seizures and street price drops, synthetic opioids and other drugs have also been found,” said Jeremy Douglas, UNODC regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

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