This blog is a review of the fourth episode of the Netflix series ‘The Business of Drugs’ and it is about the drug meth.
This episode begins with a trip to Myanmar in South East Asia. It is a relatively unknown fact that the biggest market in the world for methamphetamines is Asia. There is civil unrest in Myanmar with various ethnic groups fighting for control of different areas of the country. As with many war-torn, drug-producing nations, the money from the sale of meth funds the fighting. The layout of the country with its numerous jungle regions makes it difficult to track production because the meth labs are often very well hidden. Reaching them is also difficult so many meth producers are safe to produce their product.
Meth can be taken in tablet form or smoked through a pipe (crystal meth). Many of the users of the meth pill in Asia, known as ‘Yaba’, take it as a way to improve performance at work — to get in extra shifts and work longer hours.
As with the coca farmers in Columbia which were highlighted in episode 1, the farmers in Myanmar have been forced to become meth dealers in order to make any sort of living. The opium poppies they cultivate are often paid for with meth instead of money. This then becomes a vicious circle and the trafficking of meth out of Myanmar is now a worldwide business.
The ever expanding real estate market has become a very lucrative way to launder the money made from meth, as Myanmar is still a largely cash-based economy. The price of meth at the manufacturing level is relatively low. However, when the pills move from Myanmar into Thailand and other Asian countries the profit is greatly increased. Meth dealers know there is a growing desire for this drug and they will aim to get more people addicted to improve their profits.
The meth problem in Thailand has increased significantly in recent years because of the amount of meth that is flooding the streets. Even the harsh drug laws in Thailand have not curbed the dealers or addicts.
One of the major groups manufacturing meth in Myanmar are the Chinese backed ‘Wa Army’. Their military power and influence have meant that meth production has become a successful way for them to finance their armed movement. The realisation that the production of meth, which is trafficked worldwide, is linked to the military makes it all the more sinister.
Coming next, episode 5 — ‘The Business of Drugs: Cannabis’.