Special Correspondent

Target groups are those in the world of music, arts, fashion and films

NEW DELHI: With reports of alleged cocaine abuse circulating in the Rahul Mahajan- Bibek Moitra case, an international drug expert said on Saturday India was emerging as a major market in the sub continent for cocaine.

The market in Europe was saturated and international drug cartels were exploring new markets in Central Asia, India, Pakistan, Singapore and Thailand, said Ramachandra Sundaralingam, who spent over 15 years with Interpol, told The Hindu. Mr. Sundaralingam, now in India on an assignment, said that while the United States continued to be a high market for cocaine, the demand in Europe had reached saturation point. "The drug inflows into Russia, Central Asia, Pakistan, India, Singapore and other areas have gone up." Reports with Interpol indicated that countries with growing economies were emerging as new markets.

"Cocaine is the drug of high society," he said. The target groups were those in the world of music, arts, fashion and films. However, a proper study of drug abuse was not possible because "unlike conventional crime, the victim in this case does not complain."

User pattern

Although it was for the Narcotics Control Bureau to make an assessment of user pattern in the country, there were reports indicating that besides Mumbai and Delhi drug abuse was travelling to Bangalore and Hyderabad. Conservative estimates indicated that there was around 14 million cocaine users worldwide and the global turnover of the trade around $200 billion. The trade was controlled by the Colombian cartel, while Afghanistan controlled 80 per cent of heroin trade in the world.

The former Interpol officer updates authorities in Washington and European capitals on drug trafficking and emerging patterns of cartels in the trade.