Pubdate: Thu, 06 Apr 2006
Source: Asian Pacific Post, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 The Asian Pacific Post.
Author: Mata Press Service
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


To meth smokers in the Philippines, it is known as "shabu" and "bato"

Sold on the streets for as little C$2 per gram crystal methamphetamine
has become the substance of choice by Filipino drug abusers. With
domestic production exceeding demand, the crack trade has gone

According to a 2006 report by the US State Department, the Philippines
has evolved into both a source and transshipment point of crack to
Canada, the United States, Guam and Saipan, Australia and South Korea.

The US noted that domestic production of meth exceeds demand, with
most of the precursor chemicals smuggled into or illegally diverted
after importation into the Philippines from the People's Republic of
China (PRC), including Hong Kong.

Producers make methamphetamine in clandestine labs through a
hydrogenation process that uses palladium and hydrogen gas to refine
the liquid mixture into crystal form.

"PRC- and Taiwan-based syndicates have established the vast majority
of the Philippines' clandestine methamphetamine labs using a network
of ethnic Chinese who possess the necessary technical skills,"
according to the US State Department.

Illegal drugs enter the Philippines through seaports, economic zones,
and airports. With over 36,200 kilometers of coastline and 7,000
islands, the Philippine archipelago is a drug smuggler's paradise.

"Vast stretches of the Philippine coast are virtually unpatrolled and
sparsely inhabited.

"Traffickers use shipping containers, fishing boats, and cargo ships
(which off-load to smaller boats) to transport multi-hundred kilogram
quantities of methamphetamine and precursor chemicals," the US report

Military, police and marine interdiction efforts are hamstrung by
deficits in equipment, training, intelligence sharing, and corruption,
according to the US.

 From the Philippines, meth shipments travel more than 6,000 miles
across the Pacific to North America where it is known as "ice,"
"chalk," "crank," "glass" and a variety of names from A-Z.

Commercial air couriers and express mail services remain the primary
means of shipment to Guam and to the mainland U.S., with a typical
shipment size of one to four kilograms.

The RCMP notes that while it has yet to seize meth of Philippine
origin, it does not discount that Philippine-made crack or those
re-exported through this impoverished Asian country are now being
smoked by Canadian drug users.

Sgt. Scott Rintoul of the RCMP Drug and Organized Crime Awareness
Service said that the report by the US State Department about the
emerging role of the Philippines in the international drug trade
"shows definitely that there is an attempt to get in drugs from there
into Canada and the US."

"We haven't seen (meth from the Philippines) here in Canada but were
not saying that it's not happening," Rintoul said.

The RCMP officer recalled that in 2002, Canadian law enforcers seized
96 kilos of meth at the Vancouver port. The drugs, hidden in
furniture, came from China.

Most of the crack supply in Canada is believed to be provided by meth
labs here in Canada and the US.

"The appetite for meth is increasing. We are in an era of synthetic
drugs," Rintoul said.

Based on the quantity of seizures in 2005, the Philippines continues
to be a producer of crystal methamphetamine, the US report said.

Philippine authorities dismantled seven clandestine methamphetamine
laboratories in 2005, down from 11 in 2004 and 2003.

The Philippines also produces marijuana for export.

It also produces, consumes, and exports marijuana to Australia, Japan,
Malaysia, and Taiwan.

In 2005, Philippine officials claimed to have seized narcotics worth
approximately $85,323,555; arrested 15,268 people for drug related
offenses; and filed criminal charges in 10,241 drug cases.

Throughout 2005, Philippine authorities continued to link drug
trafficking activities to terrorist organizations.

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a US and United Nations-designated Foreign
Terrorist Organization operating in extreme southwest Philippines,
runs a protection racket for foreign trafficking syndicates.

In the Central and Western Mindanao areas controlled by the
secessionist rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),
mounting evidence indicates the presence of several clandestine
methamphetamine laboratories, according to the US State Department in
a previous report released in 2005.

"The drugs produced by these labs are distributed within the
Philippines and possibly exported to other countries," the 2005 US
report said.

According to government estimates, the Communist Party of the
Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA), also a U.S.-designated
Foreign Terrorist Organization with a nationwide presence, receives
money for providing safe haven and security for many of the marijuana
growers in the northern Philippine and collects "revolutionary taxes"
on the sale of drugs. 
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MAP posted-by: Tom