Illicit drugs continue to remain among highest-value illicit commodities trafficked in the Asia-Pacific region - fuelling violence, corruption, conflict and addiction. Concerns in the Asia-Pacific region centre - at present - on amphetamine-type substances (ATS) and heroin. East and Southeast Asia the focus of attention is on Myanmar which accounts for one-quarter of global cultivation and a sizable quantity of ATS production.

In the midst of these trends the 36th Meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (HONLEA) for Asia and the Pacific started today in Bangkok.

Annually organized by UNODC, HONLEA is a meeting designed to allow participants to discuss major regional drug trafficking trends and countermeasures. The meeting is also a venue to for practitioners and law enforcement agents to exchange expertise, share best practices and information on drug-related matters and to develop a coordinated response. This year's meeting is taking place during 30 October - 2 November at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

Speaking on behalf of Yury Fedotov, UNODC Executive Director, Mr. Gary Lewis, UNODC's Regional Representative, emphasized the need to focus on three things: accurate knowledge of the problem; state-of-the-art technical countermeasures and better regional cooperation.

"As the custodians of the laws designed to protect the young and the vulnerable we can all play an invaluable role in turning the illicit flows of drugs into a high-risk operation for the criminals," Mr. Lewis said.

In addition to focusing on supply, Mr. Lewis also noted: "Our efforts must also focus on persuading our citizens to stop consuming illicit drugs. We must continue to raise awareness about the dangers of drug use to health and development. We must champion evidence-based, community-based treatment."

Attended by 129 countries from 32 countries, this year's HONLEA meeting focuses on three important topics:

  • Precursor chemicals: including the identification of new smuggling routes and of trafficking groups involved in the diversion of precursors and their modus operandi;
  • Production of ATS: in particular the detection and dismantling of "mega-labs", the challenge of illicit manufacturing in kitchen laboratories, the control of Internet pharmacies and the emergence of new designer drugs that are not under international control;
  • Undertaking cross-border investigations: the challenges of multi-jurisdictional investigations, case studies of significant operations and lessons learned.

The 36th HONLEA meeting will last until 2 November with the adoption of the meeting report which will contain conclusions and recommendations.

Background:

HONLEA is a subsidiary body of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which is the central policymaking body within the United Nations system dealing with drug-related matters. For more information about the Commission, please visit here.

UNODC holds HONLEA meetings in three different regions: Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific. The most recent HONLEA for Africa (22nd) and Latin American and the Caribbean (22nd) were held, respectively, in June and October this year.

Membership of HOLEA for East Asia and the Pacific is open to any State or territory that is a member or associate member of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). Other United Nations Members States may be invited as observers at their request. HONLEA Asia and the Pacific was established by ECOSOC resolution 1845 (LVI).

Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.