How Bengaluru cops uncovered the smuggling of Ya Ba, a party drug in the city

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How Bengaluru cops uncovered the smuggling of Ya Ba, a party drug in the city

Bengaluru’s Central Crime Branch sleuths on Friday arrested a 27-year-old man named Jahangir Ghazi, who was in possession of 1,000 Ya Ba tablets, popularly known as Bhul Bhulaiya or the “madness drug”, worth Rs 10 lakh. Ya Ba is a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine.

Over three years ago, Jahangir Ghazi from West Bengal’s North 24 Parangas arrived in Bengaluru and soon began working as a construction labourer. However, it was over 18 months ago that Jahangir became acquainted with peddling drugs when he moved to Parappana Agrahara area. CCB sources say that Jahangir became acquainted with men from his home state, who were dealing upscale party drugs and reaping huge profits and he allegedly became a conduit, who smuggled drugs from Bangladesh.

“We have interrogated him about how he began peddling drugs but we are yet to figure out who his accomplices were and who is running the racket. It was from his friends from West Bengal that he learnt of the drug named Ya Ba and decided to smuggle it into the city. He learnt that there is a huge demand for methamphetamine-based drugs in Bengaluru and so he became the man who smuggled the drug into the city,” a CCB official said.

CCB sleuths had received intelligence about Jahangir’s alleged drug peddling in October 2018. The sleuths had even laid out a trap for Jahangir in December last year. However, he had evaded arrest and continued to peddle drugs.

Upon his interrogation, police learned that Jahangir bought each tablet for Rs 300 and sold it to the dealers for Rs 900 to Rs 1,000. “The going rate for Ya Ba in Bengaluru is anywhere between Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,700 per pill. His customers were mostly college students and working professionals. Jahangir Ghazi never stayed in the same house for more than a week and he kept moving with precision to avoid arrest. We have been tracking his movements and we finally arrested him near his room in Parappana Agrahara,” the police added.

The CCB sleuths boarded a train at Bangarpete on Friday and tracked his movements after he got off at Bengaluru railway station and went home, where he was nabbed.

Jahangir has been booked under relevant sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.

CCB sleuths, however, say that Jahangir was a known drug peddler but they had never heard about the drug named Ya Ba until 2017 and that it is a relatively new drug in the city.

What is Ya Ba?

Ya Ba, literally translates to mad drug in Laotian and was formerly known as ya khayan (hard-working pill) in the 1970s across South East Asia and later came to be known as ya ma (horse drug) as it was fed to horses lugging huge carts up the steep hills of Myanmar. It was only after 1996 that it came to be known under several slangs including Ya Ba (madness drug), kyethi (button).

The drug is popularly known as baba, guti, laal and loppy in Bangladesh. However, it was after 2008 that the drug began to make its way across India via Manipur, a senior official with the Narcotics Control Bureau in Bengaluru says. The drug is WY and bhul bhulaiya in India.

“Ya Ba comes in the form of pills. It is generally reddish-brown in colour and sometimes is orange or yellow and looks like a pharmaceutical-grade tablet. The ones brought to India that we have seen has the letters WY on it. They are small and round, roughly 6 mm in diameter and are stuffed into straws, pants pockets, wrapped up like chocolates, put into mouth freshener containers and transported. It is difficult to detect the drug and can be peddled easily,” the official added.

Ya ba tablets are generally consumed orally. It is also melted and the fumes are inhaled, and also snorted. It can cause increased blood pressure, heart rate, damage blood vessels in the brain and can cause stroke, the official said.

Officials with the NCB say that Ya Ba gives a powerful burst of energy, heightened libido activity and decreased appetite. It also causes mood swings and prolonged period of sleep and depression.

Ya Ba in Bengaluru

CCB sleuths say that they first heard of Ya Ba in February 2017 after the arrest of two Bangladeshi nationals in Koramangala. The CCB’s narcotics squad had searched a house on Hosur Road in Bommanahalli after receiving a tip-off and arrested Johny Khan alias Sujan, 26, and Raja Khan alias Rajob, 23. The police learned that the duo had been dealing drugs in the city for two years prior to the arrest. The police had seized 40 tablets, which they had not seen before and had sent it for forensic testing.

“It was after their arrest that we had uncovered the first case of Ya Ba smuggling in Bengaluru. We had heard about a similar drug, which was being smuggled into North East India and soon realised that it was the same drug after the suspects were questioned,” CCB sources say.

In September 2018, the CCB sleuths received a tip-off that another Bangladeshi national, residing in Begur named Sumon Shaik was dealing Ya Ba. The CCB police alerted Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) stationed at Kempegowda International Airport, who detained Shaik until the narcotics squad arrived to arrest him.

“Compared to MDMA, cocaine and LSD, Ya Ba is relatively new to Bengaluru and has been under circulation since 2016. Since this is the third such case we have come across, we are looking to see whether these accused have any common connection and whether in the recent arrest, Jahangir was just a conduit or was much more,” the CCB source added.