MANIPUR | Cross border drug trafficking on the rise

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By Phanjoubam Chingkheinganba, Imphal

Illegal cross border smuggling from neighbouring Myanmar to the Indian state of Manipur is witnessing a rapid rise despite multiple measures being undertaken by Narcotics personnel as well as police personnel to check the menace.

Most of the drugs which are smuggled in from Myanmar through the vast international border include Heroin powder, Brown Sugar and amphetamine tablets which are basically known as WY tablets, a high ranking officer told Pratidin Time. Manipur shares 398 km with that of Myanmar.

“There is no doubt that illegal cross border drug smuggling has increased in recent years and Manipur has become a favourable transit route for transporting smuggled drugs to other parts of the country and beyond” the high ranking officer said.

Reports available states that in 2017 alone, 1, 80, 007 of amphetamine WY tablets which comes in “unlabelled packets” were seized by the Narcotics Affairs and Border(NAB) and other law enforcers. Atleast 12, 15, 273 were seized in 2018 indicating the rise while 12, 37, 993 have been seized so far for 2019.

Seizure of Heroin powder too has increased with more than 7 kg seized in 2017, while in 2018, more than 22 kg were seized. A little more than 9 kg too have been seized by the Narcotics personnel till July 2019.

Number of drug peddlers and agents too has increased manifold, due to the “lucrative financial prospect”, with at least 355 of them including 79 women being arrested in 2017 while 479 including 95 women were arrested in 2018 and 203 including 36 women have been arrested till July 2019.

The drug racket is highly complicated and even foreigners are associated in the illegal business, the officer said. Although the figures are based on those recovered by law enforces, there is no doubt large number of illegal drugs get passed from the border state.

Earlier in February 2019, one 35 year old Myanmarese national was detained in the Indo-Myanmar border of Moreh for possessing Brown Sugar which she had concealed in 143 small packets. The estimated amount in the international market was Rs 3.6 crore, informed another officer.

Brown Sugar too has made inroad to the state for local abuse. A little more than 5 kg were recovered in 2017 followed by more than 19 kg in 2018 and more than 115 kg till July 2019.
Not just are these drugs smuggled in from Myanmar, the problem of poppy cultivation too has been giving headache to law-enforcers and Narcotics personnel.

Vast tracts of poppy from which Opium are extracted are cultivated in the hill district of Chandel and Ukhrul which shares border with Myanmar. Sources reveal that these Opiums grown by tribal villagers are purchased by national from across the border and sent back to the state after having it chemically processed into Heroin.

Poppy cultivation is banned in Manipur under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985, several farmers in the hill areas have discarded rice cultivation and substituted it with poppy cultivation to maintain their livelihood due to better financial income.

To check such plantation, Narcotics personnel along with the state police and the paramilitary Assam Rifles periodically destroy such plantation. In 2017, 2210 acres of such were destroyed while in 2018, 1506 acres were destroyed while till July 2019, some 446 acres have been destroyed too.

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