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Sunday, 19 March, 2000, 23:55 GMT
Counting the cost of crime
Heroin seizure
Massive profits are made through heroin smuggling
By Geraldine Carroll in Bangkok

Government ministers, police and academics from 22 countries are meeting in Thailand on Monday for the first Asia Pacific conference aimed at fighting international crime syndicates.

The two-day conference will discuss initiatives to combat money laundering, trafficking in humans and drug smuggling.

Delegates are also expected to debate the social costs of organised crime in the region.

The United Nations estimates that organised crime syndicates earn $1,500bn a year through drug trafficking, money laundering and smuggling migrants.


Vietnamese border guards
Vietnamese border guards with confiscated goods
With national borders more porous than ever before due to globalisation, experts say criminals are posing an unprecedented challenge to developing nations struggling to cope with the social costs of organised crime.

The anti-crime conference is hosted by the Thai government, in conjunction with the Vienna-based UN Office for Drug and Crime Prevention.

It aims to bolster support for a UN-sponsored draft convention against trans-national organised crime, and to stop the spread of corruption across the Asia Pacific region.

Economic crisis

The convention will enable member states to seize and confiscate proceeds of organised crime and establish global support in fighting corruption.

Experts say international crime syndicates amassed hugh profits during Asia's economic crisis.

They say people struck by the regional meltdown were lured into the criminal world.

The meeting will bring together delegates from 10 south-east Asian nations and other countries, including China, Japan, Australia, the United States and Canada.

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See also:

23 Feb 00 | South Asia
UN concerned over drugs in Asia
23 Feb 00 | Americas
Crackdown on sex slavery
16 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
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14 May 98 | Despatches
Asia's mounting drug problem
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