Wednesday, January 23, 2019 | ePaper

Deterring Yaba trade and usage is turning into a losing battle

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Every year, an estimated Tk 6,000 crore worth of Yaba is sold in the country - equivalent to some 30 crore pieces of the drug. However, it is a back-of-the-envelope calculation. In the case of Yaba, there is no social class barrier. People from all sections are engaged in its dealing with the drug mainly penetrating Bangladesh from the upper crust through DJ parties where models and actresses reportedly use the immunity provided by their glamour status to peddle the stuff.
Entering upper level rave parties in around 2003-05; this was first a 'harmless high' for the affluent, mainly sold by people who were either wealthy or socially established. Therefore, in the case of Yaba, the popularity trickled down from the top.
The rise of this Methamphetamine-based drug has been a phenomenon in the last 10 years. Still, the diabolical impact has not hit us on the face yet. The crazy drug has invaded small towns and villages as well. Almost overnight, a handful of people have mysteriously grown filthy rich by selling the tablets. The Department of Narcotics has found 419 such people, whose bank balances have ballooned without any logical explanation.
A major part of the tale is about a neighbouring country. A surprising volume of documents are available about how Myanmar has become a "narco state" over the years, from producing opium to today's Yaba. From Myanmar, the pills spread to Thailand, the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam and of course, Bangladesh. That said -- a more worrying development has surfaced lately. Those who are enmeshed in the Yaba trade are reported to have set up clandestine plants themselves to manufacture the drug inland, with a view to avoiding the risk involved in smuggling of the drug. Setting up similar plants should not be a big deal, for Yaba is being manufactured in the makeshift small plants in Myanmar villages along the border with Bangladesh. In the event of home-based manufacturing, the Yaba trade would be far more difficult to contain.
It is highly distressing to acknowledge that, it now appears as if we are fighting a losing battle to contain the rampant usage, trade and demand of Yaba.
But all these developments must not deter the narcotics control personnel and law enforcers from busting the dens of drug dealers. The problem of drug addiction is enormous but it needs to be resolved at any cost at the earliest. It may not be possible to wage a bloody war like the one that is now on in the Philippines against the drug dealers. But there should, at least be a countrywide drive to free the society of this menacing pill.

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