Drug trafficking funds terrorism & instigates political violence in South Asia: INCB report

New Delhi, April 16 (Representative) Underscoring the growing use of drug trafficking proceeds to fund terrorism, aid armed groups, and instigate political violence in the South Asia region, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said on Monday that narco-terrorism appears to be an increasing problem in the region. “Seizures of heroin in South Asia have seen an overall increase in the past decade,” it said adding that India accounted for the largest share (two-thirds) of the heroin seized in South Asia in the period 2017–2021, followed by Sri Lanka, at 23 per cent, and Bangladesh, at 7 per cent. The average annual seizures of heroin in South Asia along the southern route have increased to the extent that the total quantities of heroin and morphine originating in Afghanistan that are seized along that route are now larger than those seized along the northern route, the INCB report said. Illicit cultivation of opium poppy and manufacture of methamphetamine are among the most significant drug challenges facing East and South-East Asia, with cannabis being the most used drug, followed by methamphetamine and other amphetamine-type substances, it emphasised.

The INCB in its report highlighted that India is increasingly being exposed to the expansion of methamphetamine trafficking from both South-West and South-East Asia (mainly originating in Myanmar), which poses a high risk of significantly increasing the availability and use of the drug in the country. The largest opiate market in South Asia is India. In 2021, with an estimated 11 million opiate users, India accounted for nearly 90 per cent of the estimated number of opiate users in South Asia, equivalent to 34 per cent of the total number of opiate users worldwide,” the report said. Illicit manufacture of and trafficking in ketamine, a substance not under international control, continues to be an issue of concern in the region. Seizures of ketamine nearly tripled in 2022 compared with 2021, and there has been a proliferation of clandestine laboratories for the illicit manufacture of the substance, the board underscored. The Board, in its report, further urged the countries in the region to improve the availability of internationally controlled substances for medical purposes, prevent and address drug trafficking, and provide evidence-based prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services.