Pubdate: Thu, 25 Jun 2009
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2009 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Steven Edwards, Canwest News Service


Asian and "traditional" biker gangs have dramatically stepped up
production of illegal "party" drugs in Canada, turning the country
into a significant exporter, the United Nations said Wednesday.

In a global survey of illegal drug production and trafficking, Canada
is identified as a "primary" world source of ecstasy, and likely the
biggest supplier of methamphetamine "uppers" to Australia and Japan.

"Canada has become a major trafficking hub for meth and ecstasy," says
World Drug Report 2009 by Vienna-based UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

"By 2006, law-enforcement intelligence noted that Asian organized
crime and traditional outlaw motorcycle gangs operating in Canada had
increased the amount of methamphetamine they manufactured and
exported, primarily into the United States, but also to Oceania and
East and South-East Asia."

Most of the ecstasy produced in Canada was "thought to be" destined
for the United States, Australia and Japan, adds the 306-page report.

"In 2007, it was estimated that 50 per cent of domestically produced
ecstasy was trafficked outside of Canada," it said.

Antonio Maria Costa, the UN's anti-drug czar, said Canada's rise as a
trafficker results from a "perfect storm" of events involving
law-enforcement levels and ease of access to ingredients known as
"precursor chemicals."

While a "robust" clampdown in the Netherlands rolled back ecstasy
production in that country, the U.S. banned over-the-counter sales of
certain precursor chemicals, he said. In Canada, meanwhile, Asian
gangs used their contacts in China and elsewhere to import precursors
and to develop trafficking routes throughout Asia and beyond.

"So Canada is being attacked from both the West and the East, as well
as from the South," Costa said.

He described gang members as primarily young and, therefore, most
likely Canadian-born.

"But they have roots back home, and that is where the origin of the
problem is," Costa said.

According to the report, ecstasy laboratories in Canada were, by 2007,
"large-capacity facilities primarily controlled by Asian
organized-crime groups, utilizing precursor chemicals trafficked from
China in sea containers."

It shows Canada is fourth among countries ranked for seizures of
ecstasy-group substances. It is fifth in ranking for seizures of
amphetamine-group substances.

Justice Minister Doug Nicholson said the expansion of illegal-drug
production in Canada could be reversed through tougher trafficking
penalties -- but added Liberal party members in the Senate were
holding up a bill providing for that.

"The report comes as no surprise, because law-enforcement agencies
have been telling us this for the last couple of years," he said.

"But we're at our second attempt, as a minority government, to get our
anti-drug bill through Parliament. So if any good comes out of this UN
report, it's that it may push the Liberals to give us a hand to get
the bill passed." 
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