Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla has directed Chief Secretary L Tochhong to take up the issue of pseudo-ephedrine trafficking on a ‘war-footing’ and to convene a meeting of all law enforcement agencies in the state to explore tough prosecution measures for traffickers.
Health Minister Lal Thanzara meanwhile said the department will review all drug licenses for sale, transport and storage issued in the state because of ‘mounting evidence that these are being misused’ to traffic pseudo-ephedrine, an illegal business that has gained major ground in Mizoram and which has seen arrests of all kinds of people — from government officials and politicians to business-persons and students.
Roughly 20 million tablets of pseudo-ephedrine, which is used to manufacture the narcotic drug methamphetamine, has been seized from traffickers in Mizoram since 2011 as these made their way towards Myanmar, where Asia’s methampehetamine cartels are largely based.
Methamphetamine has begun surfacing in the streets of Mizoram’s capital city Aizawl and other towns recently, and doctors involved in fighting drug addiction estimate about 100 young people have already been addicted to the drug for which there is no known medical treatment unlike those hooked to opium-based substances such as heroin.
At a workshop on pseudo-ephedrine and methamphetamine in Aizawl on Thursday, Special Judge Lucy Lalrinthari — who decides drug-related criminal cases at the Aizawl District Court — said pseudo-ephedrine related cases are likely to always result in acquittals since the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 does not impose penalties on the trafficking of formulations normally caught in Mizoram by police and anti-narcotics agencies.
The onus of seizing these consignments lies with Drug Controllers since the trafficking of these particular drugs come under the purview of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the magistrate said, her speech immediately triggering a heated debate among participants, particularly law enforcement agencies’s representatives, who accused the Drug Controllers’ office for not doing enough to combat the trafficking, even to the point of drug control inspectors not willing to be present during seizures.
An official from the Drug Controllers’ office however said the department was majorly short-staffed and did not have the required manpower to carry out investigations.