South Asian countries, including Iran and Pakistan, are quickly establishing themselves as a major force in the global methamphetamine market, the Associated Press reports. Drug cartels in those countries are taking advantage of weak governments and law enforcement that have allowed the heroin trade to thrive.
Criminals in these countries are able to obtain ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, meth’s two main ingredients, from their nations’ pharmaceutical industries. Meth is more valuable than heroin, and some say it is more addictive, the AP notes.
As governments in other regions of the world clamp down on meth ingredients, South Asian countries are attracting more meth dealers, according to Matt Nice of the International Narcotics Control Board, which enforces U.N. conventions regulating the manufacture and distribution of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. They seek countries with weak security and regulation, “where you can obtain the chemicals because no one is paying attention, or it has never been a problem before,” he said.
In 2010, Iranian police dismantled 166 meth labs, a large jump from the two dismantled in 2008.