Although there is no established market for crystal methamphetamine or meth in Bangladesh yet and so far meth-related arrests and seizures have remained minimal, recent developments suggest a growing trend with the powerful stimulant, popularly known as "ice", increasingly making inroads into the country. The Department of Narcotics Control on Wednesday seized two kilogrammes of crystal meth, estimated to be worth Tk 10 crore, in Teknaf. It was said to be the largest consignment of ice to be seized in Bangladesh. Investigators say that at least two to three consignments of the drug, each weighing around 0.5kg-1.5kg, have arrived every month over the last three years through various airports, mostly from Malaysia. Smugglers are also using land routes, as the latest consignment entered Teknaf border, an established gateway for yaba, via Myanmar from Thailand.
Our assessment of the situation says that if the drug hasn't yet become popular in the country, it is perhaps because of its high price—leading drug syndicates to target users in upscale neighbourhoods—and the fact that Bangladesh, and India, are often used rather as transit routes. That may change if growing use somehow pushes the price down and creates a fertile ground for a profitable market within Bangladesh. This is why the narcotics authorities must remain vigilant at all times so that any tipping point where crystal meth use takes off can be avoided. DNC officials have already collected enough intelligence about the techniques and methods followed by smugglers and local dealers. This knowledge should be translated into a comprehensive action plan, while ongoing efforts such as setting up scanners and dog squads at airports and land and river ports (to detect narcotics entering the country) should be expedited.
Bangladesh is already struggling with its narcotics problem. And the risks of failure in preventing the trade/use of crystal meth, a highly addictive and potentially deadly drug, cannot be overestimated. As well as strengthening existing detection and prevention measures, there should be awareness campaigns to make potential users aware of the dangerous side-effects of this drug. However, since Bangladesh is being used as a transit route, local control measures may fall short of having much impact if we cannot cut off the source. This calls for wider collaboration with the governments of countries affected by the operations of the transnational drug syndicates. We hope the authorities can fight off this burgeoning trend before it reaches worrying proportions.