Law Enforcement, Drug and Precursor Control

Nature and Scope

Illicit drug production and trade undermine sustainable development, political stability, threaten national security and the rule of law. South Asia is between two of the world's largest heroin producing areas. Illicit heroin produced in these regions is smuggled into and through South Asia. Traditionally, South West Asia produces smoking grade heroin while south East Asia produces injectable heroin and amphetamines.

The illicit cultivation of opium in Afghanistan has increased heroin abuse and trafficking to countries in South Asia. Trafficking heroin to China through air couriers via South Asia through the Gulf states to Maldives are emerging trends. There is a possibility that sea lanes around Maldives are being used as drug trafficking routes as controls over the large number of islands need to be strengthened. These trafficking routes are being used for the illicit manufacture of heroin and amphetamines type stimulants (ATS) as well.

South Asia is close to one of the largest manufacturing and consuming regions in respect to ATS. A recent phenomenon in the region is the rise of trafficking and abuse of ATS and setting up of clandestine laboratories. Since 2003 there have been seven clandestine lab busts in India and one in Sri Lanka in 2009. In Bangladesh 1.7 million tablets of "Yaba", a synthetic illicit drug, were seized.

The challenge in containing precursors is that they are used both for legitimate and illegal purposes. The objective of precursor control is to maintain a balance between preventing diversion of precursors for illicit manufacture of drugs and not affecting legitimate trade.

UNODC's response to drug and precursor control in South Asia

sp UNODC assists countries in South Asia to frame legislation, rules and regulations on precursor chemical control. It is committed to assist countries of the region to assess their licit requirements of precursor chemicals and maintain a database for the purpose. Emphasis is laid on building capacities of law enforcement agencies to enable them to detect and prevent diversions of precursors from licit trade as well as through smuggling. They are also trained to conduct follow up investigations to identify sources and apprehend traffickers. The objective is to create an institutional training and consultation capacity in the region on drug law enforcement and to improve the knowledge, awareness, cooperation and results in the field of drug control and organized crime. It supports these activities through its two regional projects on 'Precursor chemical control' and 'Strengthening drug law enforcement capacities in South Asia'.

Countries, particularly near illicit drug producing areas, need to implement well-structured comprehensive precursor control strategies that deny traffickers access to the chemicals they require to produce illicit drugs. In order to achieve this, the Governments need to have adequate legislations in line with the UN Conventions. The related UN Conventions are, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances 1971 and the Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 1988.

Under the regional project on precursor chemical control 19 trainings, including computer based trainings, reaching out to 700 drug law enforcement officers in the region was conducted. The project has helped to focus on forensic evidence in investigation of precursor diversion cases by conducting assessment of training and equipment requirements in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Additionally 11 trainings reaching out to 86 lab chemists in the region were conducted for better forensic analysis of precursors. All together 120 precursor field test kits were disseminated during the trainings.

Under the second project, several training programmes to build capacities of drug law enforcement officers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka, were conducted. The trainings focused on the UN Conventions on drug control, drug trafficking scenario, types and classification of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, intelligence collection, cargo and passenger profiling techniques, special investigative techniques and assets forfeiture. Additionally 51 master trainers were trained through the training of Trainer's (ToT's) programme; capacities built of 46 law enforcement personnel through 2 regional training programmes; 12 national training programmes, 2 in each of the countries, were conducted reaching out to 350 drug law enforcement personnel and 7 seminars on the nature and extent of pharmaceutical abuse, one in each country and 2 in India were conducted.

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