How Asia's meth is made

GlobalPost

Forget pot. These days, Asia’s go-to drug is meth.

Meth in Asia is sold in two forms: There’s “ice” or crystal meth. And there’s “ya ba,” little pink pills. Think of “ice” as fine cognac and “ya ba” as beer.

Both are produced in Myanmar’s frontier, a chaotic place ruled by dozens of militias. Some fight for independence. Others are allied to the government. But almost all are in the drug trade.

The meth supply chain begins in India, where they buy truckloads of sinus pills. The pills are smuggled to Myanmar where militias extract pseudoephedrine — meth’s key ingredient.

It takes about 20,000 pills to whip up a kilo of ice worth one-hundred grand.

Many militias have specialties. Some traffic meth abroad. Others just provide a place for Chinese mafia to open their own drug labs. But no matter what, pro-government militias have an edge. Officially, their job is to fight off rebels — but they’re also given a tacit license to produce drugs with impunity. And that compels them to churn out even more meth.

That’s bad for Asia — but it’s really bad for Myanmar, which is trying to become a freer and more modern place. These narco-militias are basically running lawless little kingdoms. They now produce more than one billion meth pills per year — enough to get everyone in America strung out for an entire weekend. And the more meth they make, the more powerful they become.