Smugglers of Ketamine, a party drug, have now switched over to smuggling ephedrine, another drug, according to Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) authorities.

Increased vigil at the airports, bringing Ketamine under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and busting two major factories involved in production, were the three main factors that resulted in the scarce supply of this drug forcing smugglers to switched over to ephedrine, said C. Rajan, Additional Director General, DRI, Chennai.

Per kilogram price of ephedrine has gone up considerably in the grey market, he said. Earlier, the per kg price of ephedrine was only about Rs.75,000; now it is nearly Rs.1 lakh, he said.

While the ketamine is distributed in the powder form, the ephedrine is manufactured and smuggled in the tablet form.

A good number of pharmaceutical industries involved in the manufacture of ketamine, a veterinary anaesthesia, illegally sold some portion to the smugglers. These units were functioning from Maharashtra and Gujarat. In the case of ephedrine the pharmaceutical industries in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat were involved in the manufacturing of this drug, Mr. Rajan said.

Last year the DRI officials seized nearly 5,000 kg from a factory in Hyderabad and another 500 kilogram for which the unit had records, but the officials were unable to seize that consignment. The licence of this particular unit got expired already and it continued the production of ephedrine illegally, he said.

Unlike ketamine, the ephedrine carriers were adopting ingenious methods to smuggle the drug, he added.

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