101 East

Asia’s Meth Boom

Investigating why Myanmar has become the world’s biggest meth producer, driving a meth explosion in the region.

Methamphetamines are flooding into countries across Asia.

But where do the drugs come from, and who is profiting from feeding the world’s addiction?

101 East travels to the notorious Golden Triangle to investigate what is driving Asia’s meth boom and why authorities are powerless to stop it.

With rare access to the borderlands of Myanmar, the world’s largest meth producer, 101 East meets leaders of rebel armies who are often blamed for the country’s drug production and explores whether the nation’s military could be involved.

On the front line of the drug war, 101 East joins a patrol with the Thai military as they try to stop the massive flow of methamphetamines coming across the border from Myanmar.

In a recent bust, Thai authorities seized 300kgs of crystal meth. If it had reached Australia, the drugs, known as “ice”, would have been worth $180m.

But, despite record-breaking amounts of meth being seized across the region, authorities estimate they are only catching about 20 percent of it.

The rest can end up anywhere from construction sites in Thailand, where labourers use the drug to help them work long hours, to wealthier countries like Australia, where young people take the drug to party.

“The world has lost the war on drugs,” says Thailand’s justice minister.

With unrivalled access to parts of Asia rarely seen, this 101 East documentary paints an unnerving picture of an underground trade that authorities seem powerless to stop.