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Burmese Betel Nut Syndicate: A Multi-Million-Dollar Enterprise

30 Apr,2024 03:54 PM, by: Super Admin
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The Burmese betel nut syndicate operates clandestinely, exploiting loopholes in border security and transportation routes to smuggle betel nuts from Myanmar into neighboring regions such as the Indian state of Assam and its Barak Valley. These smuggled betel nuts are then distributed through illicit channels, often evading taxes and regulations imposed on legal trade.

 

The syndicate's activities pose significant challenges to law enforcement agencies, as they engage in illicit practices such as bribery, corruption, and coercion to facilitate their operations. Moreover, the profitability of the betel nut trade incentivizes the syndicate to continue its activities despite law enforcement efforts to curb smuggling.

 

Efforts to dismantle the Burmese betel nut syndicate will require a coordinated approach involving intelligence gathering, border security enhancements, and collaboration between law enforcement agencies across international borders. Additionally, raising public awareness about the social, economic, and health consequences of betel nut consumption can help reduce demand and undermine the syndicate's profitability.

 

A sack of Burmese betel nuts, weighing around 82-83 kg, fetches around INR 28,000 in the black market, we can approximate the value per kilogram to be around INR 338-341. Given the volume of smuggling operations and the number of sacks involved, the total revenue generated by the syndicate is substantial, it is allegedly estimated to be $120 million business annually.

 

In August 2022, Nitu Banik, manager of the 'supari mafia' associated with Altaf Hussain Mazumder, and another betel nut trader, Jakir Hussain Laskar, were all apprehended in Dholai, following a massive operation against various syndicates operating in Barak Valley. 


Despite intensified efforts, reports indicate that smuggling of Burmese betel nuts has persisted. Following the closure of the Lailapur check gate on the Assam-Mizoram border, trucks laden with smuggled betel nuts have reportedly been entering Cachar.

 

Recent media reports have uncovered a concerning trend of truck entries at the Merapani border in Assam, indicating the infiltration of smuggled Burmese areca nuts through the porous India-Myanmar border in Mizoram and Manipur. These illicit goods, including Burmese areca nuts, are reportedly distributed to gutkha industries in Kanpur, Lucknow, and West Bengal after entering Nagaland.

 

Despite their illicit status, Illegal betel is purchased by wholesalers and retailers operating within informal markets or established retail outlets. These individuals and businesses play a key role in the distribution chain, sourcing smuggled betel nuts and selling them to consumers at a markup. Without a doubt, this cannot possibly be running without corruption within law enforcement, administrative agencies, and political circles.

 

According to reports from undisclosed sources, several number of trucks regularly continues to enter the Merapani border in Assam without checks, indicating the infiltration of smuggled Burmese areca nuts through the porous India-Myanmar border in Mizoram and Manipur. After entering Nagaland, these illicit goods, including Burmese areca nuts, are reportedly distributed to gutkha industries in Kanpur, Lucknow, and West Bengal.

 

Worryingly, the smuggling network also encompasses other drugs such as heroin, opium, Yaba tablets, morphine, and methamphetamine tablets, as well as significant amounts of foreign currencies. The smuggling of these drugs poses serious public health and security risks, as they contribute to substance abuse, addiction, and associated criminal activities such as violence and organized crime. Moreover, the trafficking of significant amounts of foreign currencies underscores the financial incentives driving these illicit operations and the global reach of criminal networks involved.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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