Dhaka, Sept 24 (UNN) - The seizure of several consignments of a new drug ‘Khat’ at the country’s main airport has raised fears of a fresh drug epidemic sweeping the country after phensedyl and yaba.
Law enforcement agencies have seized several consignments, including two large shipments of New Psychotropic Substance (NPS), locally known as ‘Khat’, or ‘miraa’ or - more mystically – ‘Tea of the Arabs’, recently from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and General Post Office (GPO) in the city.
They said some unscrupulous people have been importing ‘khat’ showing the substance as ‘green tea’.
Khat, grown in parts of Africa, has been chewed for centuries in the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula. It was supposed to make them more alert and raise energy levels, which is why consumers of Khat claim it is as harmless as coffee or tea.
However, Khat is internationally labeled as ‘C’ category drug.
A senior officer of a security agency requesting anonymity told UNB that as there is no remarkable number of consumers of the new drug Khat here, Bangladesh is being used as a transit for strategically reason for last several months.
- the law enforcement agencies have already detected the illegal trade, it will be very difficult for the drug traders to use the country as a transit in the future,” he added.
On August 31, the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) and Dhaka Customs confiscated 468 kilograms of Khat, estimated to be worth around Tk 70 lakh from the foreign parcel unit of cargo village at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
Later on September 9, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) seized even bigger consignment of 1,600 kilograms of the so-called ‘legal high’, worth Tk 2.38 crore from the foreign parcel unit of the General Post Office (GPO).
Both shipments arrived here from Ethiopia.
DNC Additional Director (Intelligence) Najrul Islam Sikder said the DNC’s intelligence wing first received an information from the international intelligence agency, which has been dealing with drug abuse, on the last Eid-ul-Azha day that a consignment of 23 cartoons Khat was scheduled to reach at the foreign parcel unit of the cargo village at Dhaka airport on August 27.
Based on the information, the DNC officials started searching for the suspected cartons at the foreign parcel unit from the morning till 11:00 pm but in vein, he said.
By this time other intelligence agencies were alerted and the customs officials finally became able to detect the suspected cartons, carrying Khat on August 31 at the cargo village of the airport, he added.
The DNC arrested one Nazim, 47, from his Baily Road residence in connection with the recovery of the new drug’s consignment.
Usually the drug consignments were being brought to Dhaka via Dubai from Ethiopia through air and then the Khat are packed as ‘green tea’ and then exported to UK, USA and Australia and several other countries, said the intelligence official.
Replying to a query, the DNC’s additional director said the number of Khat consumers in Bangladesh is relatively very low as many of the drug users are yet to get exposed to the new substance which costs Tk 6,000 to Tk 15,000 a kilogram.
“As we have already alerted all the air and land ports in the country, whenever such type of consignments reach here, law enforcement agencies must seized those contraband items,” he said. He asserted that from now on it will be very difficult for the drug traders to use the country as a transit point.
Nazrul Islam Sikder said most of the consignments were sent from Ethiopia to fake addresses. “We have identified more than 20 fake addresses,” he said.
Khat: How dangerous for human health
The United Nation office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines NPS as “substances of abuse, either in a pure form or a preparation, that are not controlled by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but which may pose a public health threat”.
UNODC says the new psychoactive substances have been known in the market by terms such as ‘designer drugs’, ‘legal highs’, ‘herbal highs’, ‘bath salts’, ‘research chemicals’ and ‘laboratory reagents’.
The herbal plant is very dangerous like other lethal drugs, experts say.
The two main stimulants in Khat speed up the user's mind and body, like a less powerful amphetamine.
According to the experts, Khat has several impacts on the human body if used for long.