A new craze for a drug derived from crushed vehicle exhaust filters has Kinshasa’s authorities concerned. A report on the News24 site notes that the brown powder is obtained from crushing the ceramic honeycomb core of automotive catalytic converters, the device that cuts the emission of toxic gases in exhaust pipes.
Users mix the crushed honeycomb with vitamin pills and typically add sleeping tablets, sedatives or smoke it with tobacco, but nothing is known about how it works, or its long-term effects, said Dandy Yela Y'Olemba, country director of the World Federation against Drugs. The metals in catalytic converters can cause cancer, Yela warned.
Mechanics blame rising demand for the drug on a rash of thefts of catalytic converters, which are coated with metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium. In August police rounded up and paraded nearly 100 alleged dealers and users of the drug “bombe”, after a call by President Felix Tshisekedi.
“We used to drink very strong whisky. We were restless and we would hurt people,” said Cedrick, a 26-year-old gang leader. “But with bombe, it calms you down. When you're done, you go home without bothering anyone.”
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