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Drug made from CATs – a new craze in the Congo

A new craze for a drug made from catalytic converters rattles authorities in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.


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A new craze for a drug, known as ‘bombe’ is derived from crushing the ceramic honeycomb core of the converters and is rattling authorities in Kinshasa, triggering a campaign to stamp out the concoction and a related rash of car part thefts according to an article in autoblog.

In August, police rounded up and paraded around 100 alleged dealers and users of the drug called ‘bombe’ (meaning ‘powerful’ in the local Lingala language), following a call to action by Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi.

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Tshisekedi told ministers at a weekly meet:

“This social phenomenon calls for collective responsibility by the whole nation.”

In a suburb of Kinshasa, a user of the drug said:

“We used to drink very strong whiskey … we were restless and we would hurt people.” Adding: “But with bombe, it calms you down, you get tired, you stay somewhere standing up or sitting down for a very long time. When you’re done, you go home without bothering anyone.”

But, according to the article, ‘car owners, police, and drug experts aren’t so sanguine’.

The brown powder is obtained from crushing the ceramic honeycomb core of automotive catalytic converters.

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.

Kinshasa-based mechanic, Tresore Kadogo, says between five and 10 clients come to him every day with the same problem. He said:

“We check underneath the car and the catalytic converter is gone already, it’s been cut off,” He added: “This drug ‘bombe’ is hurting our clients, especially recently.”

Users mix the crushed honeycomb with vitamin pills and typically add sleeping pills 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.

Dandy Yela Y’Olemba, country director of the World Federation against Drugs said:

“This is a substance made to be used in an engine, in cars. We have food, we have things to take for our body, we do not have to take substances made for cars. Because if we are announcing that, ok alright, it’s normal and we start taking substances made for cars, the question is, are we engines or are we humans?”


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