Trafficking, production, use of synthetic drugs pose challenge

A bag containing the hard drug Methamphetamine. Picture: VICE

A RECENT UN Threat Assessment Report on Transnational Crime in the Pacific says the trafficking, production and use of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine poses an enforcement challenge for authorities.

Despite these, only four Pacific territories — Fiji, Tonga, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia — are party to all three United Nations Drug Control Conventions in the region.

The report said in the Pacific, drug-related legislations were outdated and ill-equipped to address emerging and pertinent drug issues.

“And given the ongoing seizures of illicit drugs such as methamphetamine, the risk of ‘spill over’ effects of illegally manufactured and trafficked substances into local markets remains a real threat,” the report said. It said the numerous social and health consequences associated with drug consumption posed a considerable public health and law enforcement concern.

“Many law enforcement agencies operating in the Pacific do so in relative isolation. This contrasts with transnational organised crime units which can be well-resourced and have complex global networks,” the report said.

“In addition, there is a lack of formal drug surveillance systems operating throughout the Pacific. A general lack of funding, resources and staff trained in drug-related issues also limits drug-related data collection and monitoring.”

It said trends relating to drug use, production, manufacture and trafficking can be difficult to detect and monitor. These are difficult to ascertain because of “lack of data and information”.

This, the report added, can significantly hinder the capacity of local, regional and international health and law enforcement agencies to respond to associated problems in timely, efficient and appropriate manner.

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