Bangladesh made record drugs seizure last year

Updated February 11, 2019

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At least 300 suspected drug dealers have been killed in deadly nationwide crackdown. ─ Reuters/File
At least 300 suspected drug dealers have been killed in deadly nationwide crackdown. ─ Reuters/File

DHAKA: Bangladesh seized a record 53 million methamphetamine pills in 2018 — up 33 per cent in a year — amid a deadly nationwide crackdown on the trade, officials said on Sunday.

Nearly 300 suspected drug dealers were killed last year, according to authorities, who insisted the seizure figure was proof that their campaign was working.

The government Department of Narcotics Control said the drug — popularly known as ‘yaba’, a Thai word meaning ‘crazy medicine’ — was seized across the South Asian nation of 165 million people. “It is the highest amount seized in a year,” said Bazlur Rahman, a department deputy director.

Masum-e-Rabbani, another senior official at the department, said the record haul was proof that a crackdown launched in May last year was yielding “positive” results. He said there has been a significant decline in the use and sale of yaba.

Nearly 300 suspected drug dealers were killed by security forces in the campaign and some 25,000 arrests made, according to Rabbani.

Human rights groups say many of the deaths amount to extrajudicial killings however. More than 40 were killed in the town of Teknaf, which borders Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state and is close to the refugee camps housing about one million Rohingya Muslims.

In October, authorities made yaba a class-A banned substance and parliament passed a law allowing the death penalty for dealing the drug.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2019