Jeremy Douglas

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Laos is a missing link in Asia's fight against organized crime

The volume of methamphetamine seized in the region surged around sevenfold in the five years to 2019.

Billions of dollars are being made each year, and the impact is being felt across the Asia-Pacific region.

The majority of those drugs are from the Golden Triangle, the border region where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet.

Myanmar's Shan State is a particularly important production hub, and in response, Myanmar authorities have conducted major operations against drug labs and complexes in places controlled by independent militias, seizing record amounts of drugs and contraband.

The country's neighbors are also taking action. Thailand has also tasked paramilitary police and the military to confront traffickers along the country's northwestern border with Myanmar, and China is trying to stem the flow of drugs from Myanmar into neighboring Yunnan province.…  Seguir leyendo »

A checkpoint is seen at Thailand's border with Poi Pet, Cambodia.

To say the global novel coronavirus pandemic is causing chaos and affecting lives in real and tangible ways is certainly no understatement.

But one impact that has not received significant attention is how its spread is hurting the efforts of governments to combat transnational organized crime and trafficking -- especially in Asia, where the outbreak began.

The virus and the strong measures required to combat its spread are challenging the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) ability to bring Asia's law enforcement and justice authorities together to share information and intelligence, and to plan and conduct joint operations.

Though the movement of people and goods across borders has slowed, international and cross-border cooperation is more necessary than ever given the presence of multi-billion dollar trafficking syndicates in the region.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Thai soldier guards bags of methamphetamine pills in this file photograph.

The Sam Gor syndicate and its leader, Tse Chi Lop, stand accused of running what is arguably the biggest drug-trafficking operation in Asia's history.

They have lived largely in the shadows, with Tse allegedly running his multibillion dollar operation from Hong Kong, Macao and southeast Asia until his identity was revealed last week in an investigative piece published by Reuters.

It has been hard to watch and wait while the case against Tse has developed, knowing that he is believed to be the driving force behind the recent Asia Pacific synthetic drug surge that has ruined countless lives.

But he has been named, and the region and the world have taken note.…  Seguir leyendo »

This picture taken on April 8, 2015 shows the Kings Romans casino in Laos.

When a major government designates a business as a front for organized crime, the accused normally go into hiding and tell their lawyers to get ready.

But the Kings Romans Casino in Laos proves that normal rules of criminal behavior don't always apply to Southeast Asia.

At the end of January last year, the United States Treasury Department sanctioned Kings Romans, its owner, Zhao Wei, and the "Zhao Wei Transnational Crime Organization," alleging the casino was used to launder money and traffic drugs, among other serious crimes.

Zhao has been accused of operating with near impunity inside a Laotian special economic zone, a strategic location with limited oversight.…  Seguir leyendo »