Although yaba is mainly smuggled from Myanmar in massive quantities, law enforcement agencies say the contraband drug is also being produced inside Bangladesh.
Several arrested local yaba producers have told the court about using pseudoephedrine or similar chemicals, used to produce medicine for cold, as raw material for amphetamine, the main ingredient of the drug.
Bangladesh banned pseudoephedrine import in February last year after noticing a spike in the quantity brought in by the pharmaceutical companies compared to previous years.
Local manufacturers, who are smuggling the chemical, say producing and selling the drug is more profitable than smuggling it from Myanmar. They separate chemicals for amphetamine from medicines containing them when the raw material becomes scarce.
Law enforcement agencies have busted about 50 yaba factories in Bangladesh since 2007. Security forces say they suspect there are more such small factories.
Police Bureau of Investigation’s Deputy Inspector General Banaj Kumar Majumder said the busted factories were “very small, set up in a single room.”
Some are located on the Dhaka-Chittagong smuggling route, he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Banaj, who is believed to have busted the first local factory in Cox’s Bazar in 2007, said the local manufacturers mixed their product with the smuggled pills from Myanmar before selling them locally.
DNC Director General Jamal Uddin Ahmed said pills produced locally were adulterated.
On December 26 last year, detectives busted a yaba factory set-up in a single room in Chittagong’s Bepari Para and arrested four people with 250,000 pills, 100kg raw materials, two machines, and four moulds.
Around one million pills could be made from the seized raw materials, said Chittagong’s Kotwali police station Officer-in-Charge Mohammad Mohsin, who was the then DB Inspector.
The arrestees told police that the materials cost several thousand taka but they made several lakhs by selling their product.
Rapid Action Battalion Director (Legal and Media Wing) Mufti Mahmud Khan said: “We have busted some local yaba factories in the past. We will continue our drives until we root out this menace.”
The government recently launched an aggressive anti-narcotics drive. Since May, more than 120 people, mostly suspected drug dealers, have been killed in alleged gunfights with law enforcement agencies, prompting many to compare the crackdown to the one launched by Philippines.