Methamphetamine in a bag

Mathamphetamine - National Geographic Channel (flickr)

Criminal trade in new synthetic drugs

20th October 2017

The criminal trade in new synthetic drugs is profitable, sophisticated, dangerous, and rapidly expanding.

In this latest research from RegNet’s Roderic Broadhurst, he examines the transnational links between organised crime groups, and the implications of the expansion of the trade for law enforcement agencies in Asia and Oceania.

Producing and distributing synthetic drugs has become easier and cheaper than for traditional illicit drugs, and harder to detect. Synthetic drugs are not dependent on variable opium, cannabis, or coca crop yields.

Indeed, the development of new synthetic drugs has transformed important aspects of the criminal drug trade. The result is an efficient, profitable, and global illicit market that has revitalised traditional crime groups and further challenged the ability of law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies to identify and control the misuse of these drugs.

Implications for Asia and Oceania

The growth of synthetic drug markets in Asia has contributed to the creation of highly profitable transcontinental routes in which networks of criminal groups trade precursors or manufactured synthetics for crop-based drugs.

Law enforcement operations in China since 2014 have served to displace some production to Southeast Asia, but China, India, and Myanmar are likely to remain the largest producers and exporters of synthetic drugs and precursor chemicals in Asia.

Addressing the problem

A transnational, intelligence-led law enforcement response is more likely to be capable of effectively tackling the networks of criminal groups that enable this trade, while a prohibition-based strategy risks leading to increased levels of violence in affected states.

Read the full article.

Professor Rod Broadhurst is teaching into the new Master of Criminology, Justice and Regulation - now taking applications for semester one, 2018.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet