Strengthen interregional cooperation and information exchange to counter trafficking and manufacture of synthetic drugs

Implementing Organization

Synthetic drug manufacture and trafficking is a global business which almost always involves countries in different regions. The origins of precursor chemicals, clandestine laboratories, transshipment points, the actual drug users, are often in different countries. Still, technical experts and mid-level decision makers in the field of drug control often do have the necessary direct contact to counterparts in countries in other regions, particularly to exchange or request information informally.  

The tri-lateral consultations on synthetic drugs are a format developed by UNODC to harvest the often unique, hands-on knowledge on patterns and emerging trends of synthetic drug manufacture and trafficking technical which experts and mid-level decision makers in the field of drug control possess. They typically focus on three to four countries from two regions facing common synthetic drug challenges plus experts from relevant regional / international organizations.  The meetings result in concrete, actionable recommendations. The activity includes preparatory meetings, an in-person technical meeting, and follow-up activities.  

Accomplishments to Date

The trilateral consultations between Europol, USA and India on synthetic cathinone trafficking in February 2024 identified previously unknown regulatory and information gaps on all sides which are exploited by traffickers to ship large amounts of synthetic cathines and their precursors to Europe, from where they reach other parts of the world. The meeting recommended follow-up actions to reduce these threats by establishing formal and informal cooperation and information exchange mechanisms, and make more efficient use of existing platforms.  

The trilateral consultations between South Asia, Southeast Asia and UNODC in March 2023 revealed the magnitude and nature of synthetic drug trafficking between the two regions. The insights gained helped the participants from Bangladesh, India, Malaysia and Thailand to develop more targeted counter-narcotics strategies for the often-overlooked phenomenon of inter-regional synthetic drug trafficking in Asia. 

Project Activities
  • Preparatory meetings with national experts (online) 
  • Tri-lateral in-person meeting 
  • Follow-up activities on action points.  
Global Level Outcomes

Improved concrete and actionable information on how to counter synthetic drug manufacture and trafficking more efficiently 

National Level Outcomes

Examples include: Inconsistencies in chemical control frameworks between countries affected identified and addressed, better use of existing information exchange mechanisms, more awareness on risk areas for synthetic drugs in the country (e.g. chemical or pharmaceutical industry, chemical brokers), faster exchange of informal information on suspicious activities) 

Current State Participants 

Includes Europol


Martin Raithelhuber, UNODC martin [dot] raithelhuber [at] un [dot] org (martin[dot]raithelhuber[at]un[dot]org)

Current State Participants