N.Korean Meth 'Flooding Asia-Pacific'

Methamphetamines made in North Korea are flooding the Asia-Pacific region including the Philippines, officials say. In an interview with Reuters last Friday, Dionisio Santiago, the director general of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, said an influx of methamphetamines from clandestine North Korean factories cut the street price of the drug by half, the news agency said.

"In the last few months, we've noticed methamphetamine prices going down to as much as 3 million pesos (US$68,000) per kilo from a high of 6-8 million pesos," it quoted Santiago as saying. Santiago added that the country's drug enforcement agency last Wednesday seized a Vietnam-registered ship that attempted to enter Subic Bay with 700 kg of what is believed to be North Korean methamphetamines worth US$100 million.

"Based on our initial investigation, the Vietnam-registered boat which unloaded the methamphetamines shipment had made port calls in North Korea," Santiago said. "We've been informed by our counterparts abroad that North Korea has become a steady source of methamphetamines in the Asia and Pacific region."

The Philippines, which had a reputation for being a leading producer and supplier of metamphetamines in the Asia-Pacific region for a long time, is now becoming a midpoint in the drug trade from other sources. "Those that were manufactured here were of yellowish and brown crystal form, but lately we've been seeing higher-grade methamphetamines in crystal-clear white form," he said.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 02, 2008 10:22 KST