The number of methamphetamine tablets seized in East and Southeast Asia exceeded a billion last year for the first time, highlighting the scale of illegal drug production and trafficking in the region and the challenges of fighting it, says the U.N.

The 1.008 billion tablets was part of a regionwide haul of almost 172 tons of methamphetamine in all forms and was seven times higher than the amount seized 10 years earlier, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said in a report.

The drugs are largely consumed in Southeast Asia but also exported to New Zealand and Australia, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan in East Asia, and increasingly to South Asia.

“Production and trafficking of methamphetamine jumped yet again as supply became super concentrated in the Mekong (River region) and in particular Thailand, Laos and Myanmar,” Jeremy Douglas, Southeast Asia regional representative for the U.N. agency, told The Associated Press.

The increased production makes the drug cheaper and more accessible, creating greater risk to people and their communities, the report said.

Methamphetamine is easy to make and has supplanted opium and its derivative heroin to become the dominant illegal drug in Southeast Asia for both use and export.

The Golden Triangle area, where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet, was historically a major production area for opium and hosted many of the labs that converted it to heroin. Decades of political instability have made Myanmar’s frontier regions largely lawless, to be exploited by drug producers and traffickers.

Given the problem of limited governance and low attention to the issue, the UN. agency said organized crime syndicates have the means to continue to produce more meth and to sell it to a growing, young population with increased spending power.