Transnational drug trafficking organisations operate within Bangladesh with connections to Myanmar and India, says a new report released by the US Department of State.
Narcotics enforcement agencies have reported increased trafficking of synthetic drugs such as "Yaba" (a mixture of caffeine and methamphetamine, sometimes with heroin) and diverted pharmaceuticals, such as Phensedyl (codeine-based cough syrup), the report observes.
Drug traffickers continue to divert precursor chemicals and chemical preparations (incorporating ephedrine, pseudo-ephedrine, toluene, and acetone) from Bangladeshi pharmaceutical or chemical companies' illicit drug production, says the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report of the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, US Department of State.
Bangladesh has successfully engaged bilaterally with India to control the diversion of Phensedyl, and Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies work closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to seize and disrupt illicit drugs and chemicals, said the report released on Thursday.
Bangladesh continues to struggle to allocate sufficient resources to control precursors through consistent enforcement of existing laws despite government efforts.
The Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) issues licenses for the import, export, transport, shipment, manufacture, sale, distribution, purchase, possession, storage, or other use of controlled precursors. Rules regulate the control, monitoring, and use of precursors for industrial, scientific and medical purposes through a licensing system.
However, DNC lacks sufficient staff and equipment to detect and interdict precursors consistently.
Bangladesh has a nascent but growing commercial pharmaceutical industry.
Significant amounts of heroin and amphetamine-type-stimulant (ATS) produced in Myanmar reflect the volumes of essential and precursor chemicals smuggled into the country for illicit drug production.
The illicit production and export of synthetic drugs in Myanmar continued to increase in 2016.
Myanmar does not have a significant chemical industry and does not manufacture ephedrine, pseudo-ephedrine or acetic anhydride used in synthetic drug manufacturing.
Organised criminal syndicates smuggle precursor chemicals into Myanmar through borders shared with Bangladesh, China, Laos, India and Thailand.
The precursors are then transported to heroin refineries and ATS laboratories, many located in regions of Shan State, which are under the control of armed militia groups or in other areas that are lightly policed.
There are also mobile ATS laboratories along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border where law enforcement requires military security due to ongoing communal tensions.
Myanmar authorities faced challenges in controlling the illicit import and diversion of precursor chemicals for use in production of illegal narcotics, exacerbated by the extremely porous borders, including along non-government controlled areas in Myanmar and India.
The Myanmar police continued to make significant precursor seizures in government-controlled areas such as in Mandalay, Myanmar's main distribution centre for precursor chemicals.
Additional international seizures of precursors destined for or synthetic drugs manufactured in Myanmar are a further sign of growing production.