Sinlung /
08 July 2013

Mizoram in The Shadow Of ‘Meth Wave’

By Linda Chhakchhuak

Aizawl, Jul 8 : Already in the midst of a fierce fight against heroin, illicit pharmaceutical drugs (PD) and alcohol, Mizoram’s anti-drug fighters are girding up to face a methamphetamine wave from Myanmar. Those in the know say that the nightmare is already here.

The “wave” was created partially by Mizoram as the meth factories across its border in China are partly fueled by pseudoephedrine smuggled out from India into those countries.

“Our sources tell us that meth is already here,” the Commissioner of Excise and Narcotics Department, Lalbiakmawia Khiangte told the State Level Committee on Prevention of Drug Abuse in Educational Institutions chaired by Chief Minister Lalthanhawla and attended by six Ministers earlier this week. Pressing for utmost support to face this menace, known as one of the most dangerous chemical derivatives in the world, Khiangte painted a serious picture.

The Committee was set up few months ago in the wake of a spate of PD misuse related deaths of more than a dozen youth and an official assessment of rampant PD abuse among children and teenagers. But its actions have so far been invisible, barring banning the sale of proxyvon, another much misused PD.

Khiangte told The Assam Tribune today that though the report is yet to be confirmed with a meth catch, the prognosis clearly showed that sooner or later the “meth wave” would crash into the State as peddlers from Burma or China where meth factories have set up a roaring business, partly on Indian pseudoephedrine smuggled to them through this State. “It’s a case of the chickens coming home to roost”, he pointed out.

“Pseudoephedrine is bought from other parts of India and smuggled out to Burma through our State, which is then used to make methamphetamine and other derivatives which is smuggled across the world, ” he said. It’s a wonder that Mizoram and its neighbouring States have escaped the meth menace from Myanmar so far.

But that’s not for want of trying by the peddlers. Excise seized 670 tablets of meth in 2001, 971 in 2002 and 287 in 2011. The first seizure of meth was way back in the late nineties, they said.

But now, the word is that the peddlers are here and if the Mizo social networks are to be believed, the evil business often kick starts with a free offer of samples to impressionable youngsters as in heroin addiction. Most addicts start off as “Tih Chhin” translating to ‘experiments’. Meth and its family is highly addictive and therefore the high danger.

A huge number of tablets of different varieties of normal medicines with high content of pseudoephedrine has been seized between June 2011 to June 2013. Nearly 14.5 kgs of Ephedrine was seized last month too. Dozens of persons have been arrested and arrests are expected almost everyday as smugglers try to get the better of the over-worked, untrained sleuths and short-staffed law enforcement department.

But the arrests have failed to deter unscrupulous people bitten by the ‘get rich quick syndrome’. On July 2, a sub-inspector from the State CID branch and a constable posted in Champhai District, on the Myanmar border were arrested with 2,22,000 tablets of pseudoephidrine. The contraband goods were seized from the vehicle they were travelling in which police said belonged to the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Excise officials say that the profit margins seem high.

The rich pickings have made strange bedfellows with gangs of Mizo-Burmese-Chin-Delhiwallahs teaming up as was seen in the Delhi arrest of April 2013 in which 140 kgs of pseudoephedrine worth Rs 15 crore was seized, one of the biggest.

There is no shortage of bribery too as these people, who seem normally law abiding citizens. “I was offered lakhs of rupees to help facilitate a venture like this by a shameless person, ” said an official.

In the recent past, half a dozen paramilitary and military men including an Indian army Colonel (in Manipur) have been arrested trying to smuggle out pseudoephedrine.

With 410 kms of international border with Myanmar, Mizoram is already part of the Golden Triangle, as its main doorway in its western borders. How is it going to defend the youth of the region from this fresh attack of drugs is the moot question, even as media reports say that the meth wave is sweeping communities around the world. “It’s nothing less than a call for all hands on the deck”, as a State Excise official said.

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