• Monday, Dec 06, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:15 am

Rising meth trade rings alarm bells

  • Published at 10:45 pm October 16th, 2021
meth
A crystal meth haul seized by the Rapid Action Battalion in Jatrabari, Dhaka is seen on Saturday, October 16, 2021 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Dealers in the country have an excellent relationship with counterparts in Myanmar

The law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh have been put on alert due to the rising trade in and use of the highly addictive drug methamphetamine, also known as “meth” or “Ice.”

Several law enforcement officials recently told Dhaka Tribune that the purer and more potent Ice was on track to soon replace its derivative yaba, a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine, as the most popular illegal narcotic in the country. A sharp rise in meth smuggling suggests that demand is increasing.

On Thursday, the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) arrested a woman and her son-in-law with Tk1 crore worth of meth. On Saturday, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) received a tip-off and seized Tk12.5 crore worth of the drug in another raid.


Also Read- Two in possession of 5kgs of crystal meth arrested in Dhaka


During the raid at dawn in Jatrabari, the elite force recovered 5kg of the drug Ice and arrested two people, Md Hossain alias Khokon, (33), and Md Rafiq, 32. Khokon is suspected to be involved with a ring that supplies the drug.

Why meth instead of yaba?

The nerve stimulant, according to users, is 20 times more powerful than yaba. It creates an instant feeling of euphoria.

Shahriar Hasan (not his real name), who stopped using the drug last year, claims he first tried the drug after his curiosity was aroused by an American TV series. He switched from yaba to using just meth when he discovered that it produced a much stronger “kick.”

Crystal meth generates tremendous stimulation in a short period of time after consumption. The drug can be smoked, snorted, swallowed or injected. 

Prolonged use of the drug affects arteries, which can result in bleeding, and cause serious damage to the heart, kidneys and liver.

Violence and an inclination towards unnatural sexual activities are also reported side-effects of meth, along with rapid weight loss and ageing in a short amount of time, according to a physician.

Consumers 

According to high-ranking law enforcement officials, youths from affluent families are the main consumers of meth due to its high price point.

The drug sells between Tk10,000 and Tk25,000 per gram, Detective Branch Deputy Commissioner (Gulshan) Mashiur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune.


Also Read- Rohingya man among 2 held with 2kg Ice in Chittagong


RAB Legal and Media Wing Director Cdr Khandaker Al Moin said many youths were switching from yaba to meth to “change-up” their drug habits.

Mahmud Khan Nitto (assumed name), a university student in Dhaka, told this newspaper that he and others had formed a group of ten to buy the expensive drug. 

The meth route

According to DB Deputy Commissioner Mashiur Rahman, meth used to be smuggled in through air mail and postal services from Malaysia and Thailand. Now meth is being smuggled into the country through traditional drug routes.

Recently, the authorities intercepted as many as 13 consignments of crystal meth mostly in Dhaka, all of which reportedly came from neighbouring Myanmar through yaba channels.

After RAB seized its biggest consignment so far on Saturday, RAB Legal and Media Wing Director Cdr Khandaker Al Moin said most of the Ice had come from Myanmar via river routes. The drugs were packaged as pickles and tea.

Smugglers usually take drug shipments first to the southeastern part of St Martin’s Island. From there, they are taken to Teknaf and then to Chittagong through waterways.

The drugs are then brought to Dhaka by a variety of means. One shipment was taken to Dhaka from Chittagong by way of Mongla port in Bagerhat on a truck carrying fish. 

DB DC Mashiur Rahman said several meth dealers were active in Bangladesh and surveillance was on to track them down.

He added that a virtual marketplace for meth had recently emerged due to the crackdown on the drug.


Also Read- Man held with ‘Ice’ worth 10C in Teknaf


RAB officials said many dealers who used to sell yaba were now switching to meth.

Preferential trade facilities between dealers in Bangladesh and Myanmar

During initial interrogation, the latest arrestees told the law enforcement officials that Bangladeshi drug dealers had been cultivating excellent relations with drug dealers in Myanmar.

One of the preferential trade facilities for Bangladeshi dealers was that they did not have to pay for any drug shipments seized by law enforcement officials, said Cdr Al Moin.

 “We have got the names of 20 to 25 persons in the Ice trade syndicate. We will hunt them down soon,” he added.

The consignment seized on Saturday was set to be delivered in Dhaka’s Gulshan, Banani, Mirpur and Mohammadpur areas, the RAB spokesperson went on to say.

Abdus Sabur Mondal, director general (additional charge) at the Department of Narcotics Control, said several meth-related cases were filed in September, but they did not demonstrate the widespread availability of the drug.

He hoped that meth trafficking could be reduced in a couple of months, as the authorities were keeping a close eye on the supply chain.

In 2018, law enforcement officials busted the first meth lab in Bangladesh in Dhaka’s Jigatola and arrested Hasib-Bin-Muammar Rashid.

In 2020, Chandan Roy, a gold trader, was arrested by detectives over his involvement in Ice trade.

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