Asia's meth boom
Updated 0157 GMT (0957 HKT) November 6, 2018
Hong Kong (CNN)From the jungles of Myanmar to the streets of Hong Kong, police throughout Asia are fighting a war against methamphetamine.
By many indications, they're losing.
Demand for both crystal meth and yaba, tablets that typically contain a mixture of meth and caffeine, is skyrocketing. Production is increasing at an unprecedented clip, and so is the body count. Leaders in places like Bangladesh and the Philippines are waging deadly drug wars that have cost thousands of lives.
But this isn't "Breaking Bad" -- meth isn't just used by the poor and the downtrodden.
Meth no longer discriminates in Asia; it has become the dominant drug of choice across the region, irrespective of class, age or gender, according to Jeremy Douglas, who is in charge of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) southeast Asia operations.
In a career spanning 16 years, Douglas said he's never seen demand like this.
"No situation is exactly comparable, but this is off the charts," he said.
Experts say the boom is due to a serendipitous combination of domestic and geopolitical issues that have aligned to the benefit of the region's drug gangs.
The majority of meth production is happening deep inside the jungles of the Golden Triangle, a lawless area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. Experts say it's easy to conceal drug production there and move it on at short notice.<