“Synthetic drugs are taking an ever-greater share of the illicit drugs market, according to a new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). New psychoactive substances (NPS) are also flooding a market for synthetic drugs long dominated by amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), such as ecstasy and methamphetamine, which are more widely used than cocaine, opium or heroin. “There is a dynamic and unprecedented global expansion of the synthetic drugs market both in scope and variety”, said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs at UNODC. “New substances are quickly created and marketed, challenging law enforcement efforts to keep up with the traffickers and curb public health risks.” Rates of methamphetamine seizures are higher than ever across the world, largely driven by the rise in seizures in East and South-East Asia as well as in North America, according to the 2014 Global Synthetic Drugs Assessment – Amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances. Methamphetamine, which can seriously harm users, continues to spread in Asia, posing a growing challenge to health care providers and drug control authorities dealing with large youthful populations. Methamphetamine supply grew rapidly in Asia, already the largest market for ATS, between 2008 and 2012 when methamphetamine seizures tripled to 36 tons. New international supply channels are linking formerly regional ATS markets. Supply routes to Asia, the largest market for ATS and ecstasy worldwide, have emerged from West Africa and the Americas, supplementing methamphetamine manufacture in Asia. West Africa seems to be becoming a trans-shipment point for methamphetamine trafficked to East and South-East Asia via South Africa or Europe. Since 2009, about 86 per cent of ATS originating from West Africa seized at Western European and Japanese airports were destined mainly for Japan as well as Malaysia. Turkey may also be emerging as a transit point for methamphetamine smuggled from Western Asia to East and South-East Asia.”
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