BUSTED: Uncovering illicit drug networks
Selling illicit drugs, transporting narcotics and peddling psychedelics has grown as an exciting avenue for traffickers to hoodwink enforcement agencies and make several lakhs by dragging vulnerable youth into a web of dangerous addiction
The 'one step ahead' formula has always been handy for criminals looking to dodge the careful eye of investigating agencies. To stay away from the police, traffickers, over time, have introduced various new modus operandi into their evil nexus of drug trafficking. In recent cases, security agencies have found that regular everyday items like suitcases, pumpkins, cricket pads, couriers have been adopted as modes for the supply of illicit drugs.
For the trafficking of drugs through airports, drug traffickers, including a variety of foreign nationals, have employed different techniques. In October, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) caught a foreign national with 14.5 kg of narcotics substance (Pseudoephedrine drug) concealed in wooden chess and ludo boards at Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi.
Earlier in August, CISF had also detected narcotic substance (Pseudoephedrine) weighing about 24 kg concealed in cricket thigh pads, kept in the baggage of a foreign passenger at IGI Airport, the passenger was identified as Rodgers Silavwe (Zambian national). During the screening of his two trolleys through the X-BIS machine, suspicious items were found present inside the bags. During physical checking, forty-six cricket thigh pads found in the bags appeared to be heavy. The security agency tore open one of the pads and found polyethene pouches carrying drugs.
In September, a Turkish national was caught by the CISF – on physical checking of his baggage, 1,30,000 Tramadol tablets (a painkiller banned in India) was found. CISF said that the contraband was generally used as a painkiller by different terrorist groups and the price of the medicine in the Middle East is USD 5 per pill.
In June, a man was apprehended by the CISF for carrying five gold biscuits having an approximate value of Rs 25.69 lakh at Imphal Airport. The passenger, identified as Anandhakumar Karuppaiya, was taken to the hospital for an X-ray examination. He accepted his crime and revealed that he was indeed carrying five gold biscuits inside his body cavity. In May, the CISF surveillance and intelligence team of Mangaluru Airport intercepted a passenger at departure. Unsurprisingly, on checking his bags, 10 kg ganja (marijuana) was found concealed inside three pumpkins. CISF officials assure that their surveillance teams keep a tight vigil on suspicious activities and they also have drug detection machines installed across different airports.
Exploiting Courier Services
The narcotic drugs syndicate spread across different states is now exploiting courier services to ensure regularity in their supply. Crime Branch recently arrested the proprietor of a medicine distribution firm in Aligarh. The Inter Border Gangs Investigation Squad (IGIS) team of Crime Branch arrested the proprietor, who used courier facilities to ship 1.68 lakh injections of Buprenorphine. Upon further investigation, police sources claimed that the accused, for the last three years, had been using different courier services to send narcotics across more than five states including Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and the North-East. The Crime Branch team led by Inspector Sunil Jain under the supervision of ACP Aditya Gautam and the guidance of DCP Bhisham Singh duly arrested the accused. The accused claimed that by availing the courier facility, he had reduced the risk of police checking. Courier services are also preferred by shrewd traffickers as consignments are easier to track till the point of delivery.
In June 2018, the Crime Branch of Delhi Police arrested three men from Najafgarh and seized a truck carrying 700 kg of ganja. Investigation into the case revealed that the accused gang had started the barter trade of liquor and marijuana soon after the alcohol ban came into effect in Bihar. Each month, vehicles carrying ganja come from Bihar to Delhi, after which, either the same or different vehicles carrying liquor go the other way. The gang procures ganja from Naxal-affected areas of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh for distribution in Delhi-NCR.
Sources in Delhi Police claim that they are investigating some online websites that are allegedly selling drugs to the youth in our country. "We have arrested one person in 2017 and a few facts were revealed after being investigated," sources added. According to sources, through websites, a small number of drugs are procured after paying half the amount online. Interestingly, to create a web of confusion and drive away anyone keeping a tab, the person who places the order online gives a wrong address and a new person is present to collect the delivery.
According to an official from the Special Cell, traffickers are now using trucks for the supply of drugs into the city and other states of the country. The Special Cell of Delhi Police recently busted a Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Laos and Thailand) based interstate cartel. According to officials, this drug racket is an emerging supplier area on the map of the Indian subcontinent. The drug cartel was actively involved in the supply of high-grade heroin in the states of Assam, UP, MP, Delhi and Rajasthan. They transported heroin packets concealed between tea packets to dodge law enforcement agencies.
In 2017, Special Cell caught one drug trafficker Nazir Hussain, who disclosed that illegal farming of opium is rampant in the North-East, particularly in the states of Manipur, Assam and Nagaland. The opium from here is extracted widely for the production of heroin and supply to Punjab via UP and Delhi-NCR. The accused told investigators that the North-East states today house the biggest hub for the supply of these drugs to the rest of North India, which is manufacturing them locally as well as smuggling some from Myanmar. Another drug cartel was busted in April 2017, police claimed that there is widespread illegal cultivation of opium in the bordering areas of Manipur where heroin is prepared but its quality is inferior to the heroin brought from Myanmar. "The processed heroin of Myanmar is of superior quality and is also cheaper than the heroin produced by their counterparts in Manipur. That is why heroin produced in Myanmar is in high demand internationally and even in India," Delhi Police said.
Interstate Coordination Meeting
A few months ago, two inter-state meetings between police departments of four states, including one coordinated by the chief ministers of four different states, was held in Punjab. During the inter-state meetings, police from other states also told Delhi Police about drugs being supplied from the district in the city, as a result of which the district police has begun a mediated crackdown.
According to Delhi Police, a major agenda of these meetings was to share information on sources through whom drugs are being smuggled to different states like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. "For better coordination, we asked Punjab Police to share their information regarding the drug traffickers in Delhi, we will make sure that they are arrested," said DCP (Crime) Bhisham Singh.
Delhi Police data accessed by Millennium Post stated that 297 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act were reported in 2016, under which 383 persons were nabbed. Last year saw more than 300 such cases, where 456 criminals were arrested.