Monday, December 4, 2006
Oregonlive.com: While Mexican cartels struggle to obtain chemicals needed to make meth, Asian meth traffickers retain easy access to ephedrine in the manufacturing countries of India and China. As a result, Asia has become a meth powerhouse that U.S. and international officials say could easily supply the United States.
"The risk is significant," said Mike Chapman, who ran the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's offices in East Asia until August. "Just by the sheer volume of methamphetamine that's being produced in this region, you would have to be naive to think that the stuff isn't going to make its way to the U.S."
Roughly 15 million of the world's 25 million users of crystal meth live in Asia, according to the United Nations. In the Philippines, where meth is known as "shabu," a government survey last year showed 10 percent of residents ages 10 to 44 had used the drug in the past six months. Fewer than 1 percent of Americans ages 12 and older reported using meth in the past year.
Asian crime syndicates meet the burgeoning demand by acquiring meth ingredients in bulk from India and China, home to eight of the world's nine leading manufacturers of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
The threat to North America was evident in August, when Indian police accused Canadian Gurdish Singh Toor, 29, of running an Indian-Chinese-Canadian network that procured hundreds of pounds of ephedrine for meth cooks in Canada. Toor spent his early years as a drug dealer in the Pacific Northwest. He was accused of selling 13,000 Ecstasy pills in Gresham in 2001 and later pleaded guilty. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]