Ecstasy production is ‘soaring’ in Indonesia

Posted on February 29, 2012


Elly Burhaini Faizal, The Jakarta Post
, Jakarta | Wed, 02/29/2012 9:26 AM
Indonesia may become one of Asia’s largest producers of ecstasy, even as officials continue to crack down on drug traffickers, according to a UN narcotics watchdog.

The nation might become the major producer of ecstasy in East and Southeast Asia since Indonesia had a surfeit of the raw materials used to make the drug, according to a report published by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), an independent group monitoring implementation of UN drug control conventions.

Local production of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) continued to soar, raising fears of an increasing number of drug users even though crackdowns had “significantly” deterred traffickers from entering Indonesia, INCB member Sri Suryawati said on Tuesday.

“Domestic illegal manufacturers produce ecstasy tablets by converting chemicals already available in the country,” Sri, who heads Gadjah Mada University’s clinical pharmacology and medical studies program, said.

Ecstasy producers flourished despite strict importation procedures for chemicals and pharmaceutical raw materials imposed by the National Drug and Food Monitoring Agency (BPOM) and the Health Ministry, Sri said.

“Under such circumstances, there is also a possibility that the raw materials are trafficked into the country by smugglers,” Sri said at the launch of the report on Tuesday at the United Nations Information Center’s office in Jakarta.

Ecstasy is the most commonly abused drug in the country after heroin and ketamines, according to officials.

The INCB’s report said that the number of ecstasy tablets seized by law enforcement agencies in Indonesia increased by 38 percent between 2009 and 2010, while the National Police and the National Narcotics Agency shut down 15 clandestine ecstasy laboratories in 2010 alone.

“It appears that domestic illicit manufacturers supplied 90 percent of the ecstasy seized in the country, raising concerns that [Indonesia] may become a main source of the drug in the region,” the report said.

The misuse of precursor chemicals to manufacture narcotics constitutes one of three major forms of drug abuse in Indonesia.

Two other developments that were of concern, according to the report, were the increased abuse and illegal importation of ketamines and drug trafficking that involved organized criminal groups from West Africa and Iran.

The report said that drug trafficking and the increased abuse of ketamines had become a serious concern in East and Southeast Asia.

The report said that Asia accounted for 99 percent of ketamine seizures across the world in 2009 and that China alone seized 5 tons of ketamines in 2010.

Indonesia was one of several countries that reported ketamine seizures, along with Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Doctors in Indonesia previously used ketamines as an anesthetic, although the practice ended after the local pharmaceutical industry began to produce higher-quality anesthetics.

“Only veterinarian still use ketamines to anesthetize animals during surgery,” said Sri.

Deputy Health Minister Ali Ghufron Mukti said that Indonesia would raise ask the World Health Organization to develop a coordinated response to ketamine abuse and production when the WHO meets laster this year.

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