About five kg of ketamine hydrochloride, an anaesthetic often abused by the youth as a party drug, was seized from the baggage of a passenger who checked in at the airport here on Monday to take a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Air Customs officials said.
The Air Customs wing detained Kuppuswamy Rajappa, 34, of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, in this connection. He was scheduled to board an Air Asia flight at 8.30 a.m.
A. Gopakumar, Deputy Commissioner, Air Customs, said the drug was valued at nearly Rs. 2 lakh in the country and Rs. 8 lakh in the international market. The officials searched Rajappa's bag on suspicion and the drug was found skilfully concealed in a plywood chest fitted beneath the bag. The drug, in 19 packets weighing about 300 gm each, was stored in two cavities. The packets were covered with carbon paper so that x-ray screening of the baggage would not expose the drug.
He said the modus operandi used by Rajappa had surprised the officials.
The drug is easily available in the country. It is known as ‘K,' or ‘Ket,' in the streets of Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and U.S. cities. The abuse of ketamine has been on the rise among the youth in these countries. The bulk of the drug is sourced from India and orders are often placed through shadowy pharmaceutical companies.
The Air Customs and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence had seized ketamine hydrochloride several times at the airport, busting attempts to smuggle the drug out of the country. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act do not cover ketamine. Hence, Rajappa will be booked under the Customs Act, Mr. Gopakumar said.
The Air Customs officials are questioning Rajappa to find out from where he obtained the drug, to whom it was meant in Malaysia and to find out if he is a carrier.
Besides Mr. Gopakumar, the team that made the seizure had R. Venkateswara Iyer, Assistant Commissioner, Air Customs; K.S. Bijumon, Superintendent; and Santhosh Kumar and Shaji Kuriakose, inspectors.