Fake yaba has the same shape and colour as the real drug but differs in chemical formation
Yaba without amphetamine
- Contraceptive pills, chalk powder, talcum powder, glucose, paracetamol tablets, stearic acid, vanilla powder, and paraffin are used to make fake yaba
- At least four samples taken from seized yaba per day are fake: DNC
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in December, asked the DNC for counterfeit drugs data
- Fake yaba pills are sometimes more dangerous than the real ones
- Adulterated yaba can cause: kidney problems, inflammation of the liver, loss of appetite, irritability, and other physical problems
- The outside portion of fake yaba is red but the inside is white
- Dealers mix tablets smuggled from Myanmar with the fake pills and sell them on the retail market
Yaba, the deadly drug that is ruining the lives of a large part of the country's youth, is a combination of methamphetamine and caffeine. Users take it as the powerful stimulant causes euphoria.
But recent trends show that manufacturers are making fake yaba with: expired contraceptive pills, chalk powder, talcum powder, glucose, paracetamol tablets, stearic acid, vanilla powder, and paraffin to meet the overwhelming demand among users.
Addicts are being tricked with these counterfeit pills.
According to the Central Chemical Lab of the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), at least four samples taken from seized yaba per day are fake – have no presence of amphetamine, the main ingredient of yaba.
Manjurul Islam, deputy director of the DNC told The Business Standard that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in December, asked the DNC for counterfeit drugs data including health reactions and chemical formations details.
"We provided information on counterfeit yaba to UNODC in the second week of December. The findings are alarming for us," he said.
Experts said fake yaba has been posing a serious health threat among its users.
Professor Dr Mohit Kamal, who has been treating drug patients, told The Business Standard, "These adulterated yaba pills are sometimes more dangerous than the real ones. Adulterated yaba can cause: kidney problems, inflammation of the liver, loss of appetite, irritability, and other physical problems."
How fake yaba came to the spotlight
Recently, Naogaon District Police arrested a drug peddler with 67 yaba pills and later sent them to the Department of Narcotics Control's Central Chemical Lab for chemical tests.
"In the chemical examination we found half of them were adulterated and had no presence of amphetamine," said the deputy director of the DNC.
The central lab examines a minimum of a hundred samples of yaba per day sent by the: Department of Narcotics Control, Bangladesh Police, Border Guard Bangladesh, and other law enforcement agencies.
Among the samples, some are like real yaba in shape and colour but they differ in chemical formation. They lack a presence of amphetamine.
Dr Dulal Krishna Saha, chief chemical examiner of the DNC, told The Business Standard that nowadays they are finding more fake yaba.
"The number has risen recently. We call it counterfeit or adulterated yaba as there is no existence of amphetamine in it. Besides, we have observed that the drug smugglers are producing yaba with a low amount of amphetamine," he said.
Shafiqul Islam, assistant chemical examiner of the DNC, said, "We rarely found fake yaba around a year back. But now it has become a daily event."
Previously, on 27 December, 2017, Chattogram Metropolitan Police seized around 250,000 fake yaba pills and arrested four people who had enough raw materials to make around one million such tablets.
The four people who ran the factory were making the pills with a mixture of over-the-counter drugs and other legally obtainable ingredients.
Making fake yaba
According to Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police sources, some fraudsters are making and selling fake yaba pills because of high demand for the drug.
According to chemical experts, the outside portion of fake yaba is red but the inside is white.
Pinku Haldar, forensic lab assistant of the Criminal Investigation Department, Chattogram, said, "Fake yaba is coated with textile dye. Original yaba is made with ordinary ethylene vanilla and has a sweet smell. But the fake one has a smell of burning plastic."
Dulal Krishna Saha said that at least 21types of painkillers and contraceptive pills are also made to look like yaba and drug peddlers are tricking addicted people with these.
The dealers mix tablets smuggled from Myanmar with the fake pills and sell them on the retail market.
Generally, a yaba tablet weighs around 100 milligrams. It has 15-20 milligrams of amphetamine, 30-40 milligrams of caffeine and the rest is chocolate coating ingredients.
But recently, law enforcement found that at least 50% of seized yaba contains amphetamine only around two to five milligrams.
"There is no specific recipe for yaba. In different countries, smugglers use different formulas in clandestine labs. But when the demand rises, they try to make fake yaba," said Shafiqul Islam, assistant chemical examiner of DNC.
According to intelligence sources, some drug peddlers are producing fake yaba as drives against the drug have increased.
Drug lords in Myanmar are producing yaba with low amounts of amphetamine to meet the rising demand, they said.
An official from the DNC said, "When it contains a low amount of amphetamine, the addicted person needs to consume more pills to fulfill his desire. This equation boosts the yaba economy."