Excise officials on Wednesday seized 6.5 kg of hashish worth around ₹10 crore and arrested a carrier here, in the first ever haul of the drug in such magnitude. Hashish is widely used in north India and is suspected to have been smuggled into Kerala via road from Nepal.
Excise Deputy Commissioner K. Chandrapalan told reporters that Judeson Varghese, who hails from Fort Vypeen, was overpowered by Excise sleuths while he was on his way to carry out a deal. He allegedly brandished a pistol and put the officials in a bind before one of them drew a pistol himself.
The incident took place around 11.30 a.m. near Moolampilly on Container Road. According to an official, people who witnessed the incident panicked on seeing firearms being brandished.
The seized drug, a refined form of ganja, is worth ₹1.5 crore per kg and is not usually used in Kerala. However, the Excise official said it was an eye-opener. Judeson was under observation for around a month, and officials had to do a lot of legwork to make the drug dealer take them into his confidence.
Mr. Chandrapalan said there were two recent hauls of hashish in the city, but they were not major ones. “But there are indications that there is a growing demand for the drug in Kerala,” he added. He said Judeson, who was arrested on Wednesday, was also on the National Investigation Agency (NIA) radar for his activities, and that the Excise Department would fully cooperate with the NIA in the investigations.
Meanwhile, it has come to the notice of the department that food delivery boys in the city are being widely used to peddle drugs. “In the light of two recent incidents, the department is gathering details about food delivery operators,” officials said.