Every time there is a police raid, bottles of foreign liquor, yaba tablets and other sundry items are found. Having them are criminal acts but one wonders how many well off and even not so well off homes have them. In a country, where the police have to say that anyone who fails the dope test will be sacked means it is more pervasive than we can even think.
We have around 10-15 million drugs including yaba addicts most people estimate. It’s an entirely smuggling based sector that has grown so large that we don’t even know how big it is. Millions make their money from the many income sources , both ferrying on protection. And yes, almost every social segment is involved. That was the point Sinha was trying to make and he paid with his life. This is big business and the deals are in the million dollar level so the crime part is small compared to the economic one.
Also read: Man held with 9k Yaba pills at Dhaka airport
How old is yaba ?
Yaba arrived in Bangladesh in 2000 and then slowly took off. It’s basically methamphetamine but has since arrival thrived. Initially it was in competition with phensedyl but the India produced cough syrup slowly over time lost the market and yaba from Myanmar took over. It’s much easier to smuggle in, carry and sell so naturally a winner. The result is the yaba explosion, in growth terms probably much bigger than the rmg sector. Bangladesh is simultaneously a transit and destination country of the drug trafficking network.
Yaba flows despite Bangladesh’s war on drugs because killing a few hundred street traders is considered good news because hundreds more are ready to join. And the business is a business of the influential. So though a few may die, the trade is not affected at all. Each Yaba pill is sold for around 100- 300 . Estimates vary.
The Narcotics Control Bill in Oct 2018 which sort of made encounter killings halal along with other punishments has not worked. The smugglers have always been smarter and following alternative routés are easy in a country bordering very difficult terrains. It’s not just Mtyanmar which traditionally supplies but India is a route too now. Yaba is now coming in larger quantities from India, through the Kurigram District located in north Bangladesh. From the sea route, smugglers use the southern districts mostly Patuakhali to push the drugs in.
Also read: SI of PBI held with Yaba
But yaba is a socio-economic issue not a law enforcement one
It provides an easy if risky life for many unable or unwilling to enter the labour market. The addiction often begins much earlier as “youth gangs” have become great introducers of yaba to children. For many it’s also a high income no matter how risky.
The consumers come from all levels so it has a broad market. If Dhaka is full of fancy clubs, kids have clubs too and many are doing the same. If dinghy clubs are supplying foreign liquor, kids clubs supply foreign yaba.
Neither the liquor nor the tablet that is making so much media noise can impact on the drug economy, the narco trade is bigger than ever. And maybe the capacity to control is limited too. For some it really is no problem, after all you make money and you can get a high so who cares?