Police in Chittagong have uncovered a massive drug making operation. Breaking into a flat in the port city's Bepari Para on Wednesday, CMP Detective Branch arrested four people in possession of 250,000 yaba pills.
They also had in store enough raw material to make another million such tablets, police say.
The methamphetamine-based drug has slowly become the dominant path for drug abuse over the last two decades, to the extent that 60-70% of rehab patients in the country are yaba addicts, reports say.
But it turns out that Wednesday's bust will be of no help in curbing the epidemic. The four people who ran the factory were making the pills with a mixture of over-the-counter drugs and other inedible but legally obtainable ingredients.
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Police said the raw materials they were using included expired contraceptive pills, chalk powder, talcum powder, glucose, paracetamol tablets, stearic acid, vanilla powder and paraffin.
Shyamal Majumder, 37, Abdullah Al Aman, 34, Mamun Hossain, 32, and Ayesha Siddiqua, 27, say they do not sell the tablets in small quantities as they are adulterated. Their clients are drug dealers who also sell the real deal.
The dealers mix tablets smuggled in from Myanmar with the fake pills and sell them at retail markets.
Shyamal was the ringleader of this gang. He is a veteran drug dealer who was caught with yaba before. Their small factory can produce 4,000 yaba tablets daily.
DB’s Additional Deputy Commissioner (west) AAM Humayun Kabir said that the seized yaba tablets were also all fake.
Each yaba tablet smuggled from Myanmar is sold at Tk40 while the seized adulterated pills are sold at Tk15-20.
Shyamal told reporters that he learnt yaba making techniques from one Rakhal Chandra. Shyamal and Rakhal were previously arrested with yaba making materials in 2012. Rakhal died in the prison in 2013.
After coming out on bail, Shyamal had launched a sweater factory but eventually incurred massive loss. Then he returned to the old path of making yaba pills.
Shyamal had his yaba making equipment made in a workshop at the city’s Madarbari area. He said they peddle their tablets in different parts of the country through their associate Aman.
They collect the contraceptive pills and paracetamol tablets from Dhaka and other raw materials from Chittagong, Shyamal said.
His associate Aman told reporters that they inform the wholesale buyers before selling that the pills are fake.
Aman also said that he once fell ill after taking one of the pills made in this factory.