Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 2009
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2009 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun
Referenced: World Drug Report 2009
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Worldwide Export of Illegal Amphetamines Also Growing

A United Nations report on the world drug trade reiterates what B.C.
police forces have been saying for a couple of years now: Canada has
become a global producer of "party" drugs, especially ecstasy.

And if past police reports hold true, the production of those drugs is
concentrated in B.C.

The report, entitled the World Drug Report 2009, produced by the UN's
Vienna-based Office on Drugs and Crime, claims the drug trade here,
which concentrates on exporting to the U.S., has now gone global.

"There is evidence that Canada-based Asian organized crime groups and
outlaw motorcycle gangs have significantly increased the amount of
methamphetamines they produce and export, for the U.S. market, but
also for Oceania and East and Southeast Asia."

Export of illegal amphetamines produced in Canada, the report claims,
has grown to 20 per cent of the country's output in 2007 from only
five per cent in 2006. The report said Canada has emerged as the
primary source of ecstasy, also known as methylenedioxymethamphetamine
(MDMA), since 2003-2004.

"Canada has grown to be the most important producer of MDMA for North
America, and since 2006, all ecstasy laboratories reported have been
large-capacity facilities operated principally by Asian organized
crime groups."

Half of that production, the report estimated, was for export. "Most
of this was thought to be destined for the United States, Australia
and Japan."

Japan, for example, reported Canada as the single biggest source for
seized ecstasy tablets in that year. As for amphetamines, Australia
reported Canada accounted for 83 per cent of imports seized by weight,
while Japan reported 62 per cent of its seizures originated in Canada.

None of this, however, is particularly new information to local police
forces and academics. "We're certainly not caught off-guard by any of
this," said Cpl. Richard De Jong, of the RCMP's Drug and Organized
Crime Awareness Service.

In October 2008, RCMP reported dismantling 37 clandestine ecstasy and
crystal-meth labs with "industrial production capacity." Twenty-four
of those labs were in B.C., with the remainder in Quebec and Ontario.
Police believe the growth in production may be attributable to the
ease with which gangs can get the so-called "precursor chemicals."
Some were banned in Canada in 2003, but others remain available.
Geography plays its part. Our proximity to the U.S. and Vancouver's
positioning on a major trade route makes it an ideal terminus for export.

However, the U.S. accounted for more than 80 per cent of the
methamphetamine labs reported worldwide in 2007 -- almost 6,000 of
them. Canada reported only 17. The report noted:

"The number of [methamphetamine] laboratories reported by Mexico and
Canada remains comparatively small, although the size of the
laboratories may on average be larger."

"There's a suggestion that trafficking [in these drugs] has increased
since 2003," said SFU criminologist Neil Boyd, "which is probably
true. But if you read the whole thing, Canada is just a small part in
a global market."

UBC public health and drug policy expert Richard Mathias wondered at
the report's intention, saying the UN may be fishing for support for
"what have really been irrational [drug control] policies."

Both academics were skeptical of the report's pedigree, considering it
to be ideologically driven by hard-line U.S. drug policy. Both said,
however, that the report recognized there was, as it stated, "a
limited but growing chorus among politicians, the press, and even in
public opinion" that traditional drug control methods are not working.
It stopped short of endorsing the liberalized drug approaches that
Boyd and Mathias endorse -- government control and sale of drug
production, a more health-based approach, less emphasis on
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake