The excise enforcement figures in Ernakulam for 2022 point at an alarming trend of fast declining gap between cases registered under the Abkari Act and the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
The Anti-Narcotics Special Squad, seven excise circle offices and 15 range offices collectively registered 1,180 Abkari cases and 804 NDPS last year. The gulf between the two categories, which was far too wide previously with NDPS cases a distant second, is now shrinking by the year.
“At this rate, NDPS cases will either match Abkari cases or may even surpass it in the not so distant future. This is a dangerous trend and it is gaining momentum,” said R. Jayachandran, Deputy Excise Commissioner, Ernakulam.
Though ganja continues to dominate in terms of sheer volume with the seizure of 279.58 kilograms, MDMA, a premium synthetic drug, the seizure of which used to exceed not more than a few grams still a few years ago was now pegged at 2.31 kg.
Enforcement officials attribute the surge in MDMA to three reasons that overrides its high price tag. “For one, the benefits surpass the cost factor for both the dealers and consumers alike. It is easier to smuggle in, handle, and consume unlike ganja, making enforcement tougher. It also remains the preferred choice among high networth individuals who frequent DJ parties. Also, the misinformation campaign, especially in campuses, that it helps to stay alert for hours helping sleepless preparations on the exam eve has also added to its demand,” said an enforcement official.
Besides, there is the huge profit margin for those eyeing quick bucks. For instance, ganja brought in for ₹3,000 may be sold for ₹6,000 while the margin is more than ten fold in the case of MDMA.
Derivatives of ganja like hashish, heroin and brown sugar have also seen a spike in demand. Enforcement officials seized 2.68 kg of hashish oil, 96.49 grams of hashish, 32.09 grams of brown sugar, and 438.53 grams of heroin in 2022.
Interestingly, the seizure of Nitrazepam, a prescription drug with hypnotic qualities, which had hit a six-year high in 2019, had plummeted to mere 74.40 grams last year. Besides, 22.33 grams of LSD and 1.41 grams of Methamphetamine were also seized. Officials also seized 292.40 litres illicit liquor, 4,211 litres of Indian Made Foreign Liquor, 200.95 litres of arrack, 8,550 litres of spirit and 761.40 litres of toddy.