Illegal cross-border smuggling of drugs from neighbouring Myanmar to Manipur is witnessing a rapid rise despite measures being undertaken by law enforcers to check the menace, police said.
A high ranking police officer told PTI that most of the drugs smuggled from Myanmar are heroin, brown sugar and amphetamine tablets, known as “WY tablets” in the common parlance.
“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 them to other parts of the country and beyond,” the officer said.
Manipur shares a 398 km border with Myanmar.
According to reports available with PTI, 12,37,993 amphetamine tablets — that come in unlabelled packets — were seized by the Narcotics and Affairs of Borders (NAB) personnel and other law enforcers in 2019 so far, up from 12,15,273 tablet seizures in 2018 and 1,80,007 in 2017.
Heroin seizures have also spiked, with 9 kg seized till July, 2019. The corresponding figures for 2018 and 2017 stood at 22 kg and 7 kg respectively.
The officer said, the number of alleged drug peddlers have also increased manifold due to the lucrative financial prospects of the business.
“While 355 drug peddlers, including 79 women, were arrested in 2017, the number of arrests rose to 479, including 95 women, in 2018 and 203 till July, 2019,” he said.
The officer said the border drug racket is complicated and foreign nationals are associated with it.
In February this year, a 35-year-old Myanmarese national was detained at the Indo-Myanmar border town of Moreh in Manipur for possessing 143 small packets of brown sugar with a total worth of Rs 3.6 crore in the international market, another police officer said.
Brown sugar too has made inroads in the state for local abuse.
While a little more than 5 kg of brown sugar had been recovered in 2017, 19 kg of the contraband was seized in 2018 and more than 115 kg of the drug seized till July 2019.
Not just these smuggled drugs, poppy cultivation in Manipur”s hill districts of Chandel and Ukhrul bordering Myanmar, too is giving a headache to the law enforcers.
Sources revealed opium grown in these districts are purchased by dealers from Myanmar, who then export them back to Manipur after chemically processing them into heroin.
Poppy cultivation is banned in Manipur under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
Nevertheless, several farmers in the hill areas have discarded rice cultivation and shifted to poppy cultivation for better financial returns, a police officer said.
To check poppy cultivation, personnel of the state police, the NAB and the Assam Rifles periodically destroy these plantations, the officer said.
Some 2210 acres of poppy cultivation were destroyed in 2017. The corresponding figures for 2018 and till July, 2019 stood at 1506 acres and 446 acres respectively.