Yaba, the noxious amphetamine based drug, has flooded the port city, enticing youths into the deadly addiction.
Within the last few months, law enforcement agencies have almost every day captured one or more people with a huge number of Yaba tablets. The extent of youths' Yaba addiction throughout the port city indicates rampant peddling of the drug, said police sources.
The recent drop in street value of Yaba has also increased its demand manifold.
The smugglers and peddlers seem unstoppable. Law enforcers said most of the offenders get bail within days of arrests and get back to their illegal trade.
“Absence of legal provision for Yaba smuggling and mobile court measures in Narcotic Control Act, 1990, are also causing the increase in smuggling and peddling of this deadly drug,” said Lt Colonel Zahid Hasan, commanding officer of Border Guard Bangladesh 42 Battalion.
Police and Detective Branch, Rapid Action Battalion, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Coast Guard and Directorate of Narcotics Control in their separate drives seized 2,09,586 Yaba tablets and arrested 275 offenders in October, 2012.
In August, the figures were 38,024 tablets and 235 arrests, said sources.
Police sources said the price of each Yaba tablet on the street dropped to Tk 100-200 from Tk 500 in about six months. This drop widened the market.
On October 20, the Detective Branch of Chittagong Metropolitan Police arrested a person running a secret lab, where Yaba and other drugs are made, said DB sources.
From street hawkers to university students, labourers to businessmen, many people are now involved in carrying, selling and consuming Yaba, said Squadron Leader Nazmul Hossain, deputy commanding officer of Rab-7.
On October 24, Rab-7 arrested a guava seller in front of VIP Tower in the port city with 675 Yaba tablets. He was using guava selling as a front for his drug trade.
The narcotics department seized 1,000 Yaba tablets and arrested two people at Alfala Gali in the port city on November 1. The arrestees were law students of a private university.
These types of drives and recovery are becoming everyday incidents in the port city, said Additional Deputy Commissioner of Detective Branch Tareq Ahmed of CMP.
At GEC intersection, students from schools, colleges and universities openly buy the drug from at least a dozen peddlers.
The situation is more or less the same at major intersections, slums, and transport stations in Chittagong. Some drug dealers even make home deliveries getting their orders via mobile phone.
The smugglers use Cox's Bazar, Teknaf, Banshkhali, Rangamati, Bandarban, Comilla, Feni and Mirsarai borders as their smuggling routes, said sources.
The border routes have remained under strict surveillance due to the recent Rohingya issue and the smugglers now use Satkhira and Khulna as their new routes to Chittagong, using buses, trucks and trains, said DB sources.
Deputy Director Mukul Jyoti Chakma of the narcotics department in Chittagong said the law enforcers, in most cases, are not able to arrest ring leaders and end up catching traffickers only. “When a trafficker is arrested, he cannot give full information about the ring leaders.”
The department sources said there were more than 20 Yaba factories in Maungdaw in Myanmar, just across the river Naff.
Myanmar is the largest producer of meth-amphetamines in the world, according to Wikipedia.org.
Lt Colonel Zahid Hasan said, “The free movement of natives and Myanmar fishermen in the river and sea also makes an easy way for smuggling between Myanmar and Bangladesh.”
Additional Deputy Commissioner of DB Tareq Ahmed of Chittagong said, “The arrested Yaba peddlers get bail from court and again get involved in the crime.”
Chittagong Metropolitan Police Commissioner Md Shafiqul Islam said in spite of strong vigilance and measures taken by law enforcement agencies, the smuggling of Yaba seemed unstoppable.
“The problem has now turned into a social problem. Besides the law enforcers, the whole society should build awareness about the matter.”