International drug racket operating on Dark Web busted

Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao and Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Sandeep Patil looking at drugs seized in Bengaluru on Friday.   | Photo Credit: K MURALI KUMAR

The city police have busted an international drug trafficking ring operating from Canada on the Dark Web and arrested two peddlers in the city on Thursday. They have recovered 2.75 kg of marijuana, 100 e-cigarettes, hashish oil, ganja chocolates and jelly worth over ₹1 crore.

The prime accused and kingpin of the nationwide racket is a BCA graduate Atif Salim, 25, who began operations seven months ago. He hails from Kolkata but lives in Bengaluru where he came to study. His associate Rohith Das, 26, also hails from Kolkata.

The Central Crime Branch (CCB) in Bengaluru got a tip-off about the supply that was coming through Kempegowda International Airport (KIA). A probe for several months led to the team busting the racket, sources said.

Atif Salim had come into contact with a drug supplier from Canada on the Dark Web and was in touch with him on the instant messaging app Wickr Me for the last seven months. “Narcotics were sent to Atif Salim to Bengaluru concealed in milk powder cans that surprisingly passed through customs at KIA. The police have now recovered 14 milk powder cans from the accused, which had a total of 2.75 kg of marijuana concealed in them,” said city police commissioner Bhaskar Rao. He also got ganja chocolates and jelly. Three packets have now been recovered. The gang was also selling e-cigarettes and hashish oil to be used in vapes. Around 100 e-cigarettes and 900 ml of hashish oil were seized.

“He did not know the identity of the supplier, except by his IM handle. All transactions were made through bitcoin, which leaves no trail,” said Sandeep Patil, Joint Commissioner, CCB. The accused has now revealed the handle and police have also recovered their chats on Wickr Me app, which they are working on to identify the supplier. “We will seek the help of Interpol as well, once the identity of the supplier is established,” he added.

Atif Salim was the main peddler who got the delivery of entire narcotics consignment for the country from the particular supplier. The man from Canada directed Atif to deliver the narcotics to other peddlers across the country, which he did. “The police have now recovered contacts of other peddlers in the ring active in Mumbai and Delhi. Teams have been dispatched to these cities and they will be apprehended soon,” Mr. Patil said.

Atif Salim got a cut of 25% of the consignment for free for being the main distributor of the consignment in India for the Canadian supplier. This he used to sell to a network of clients in Bengaluru and other cities, which tipped off the cops in the first place.

Accused used packaging similar to Amazon

Atif Salim used to deliver narcotics to his clients in the city and across the country through courier that used packaging material of or one that closely resembles that of leading e-commerce firm Amazon, so as to not raise suspicions. “We are also probing how he could use packaging used by Amazon. That probe will seek the cooperation of the firm for this,” Mr. Patil said.

The police have also recovered contacts of several customers, who are also liable under the Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The gang used to sell a gram of marijuana at ₹4,000-₹5,000 in the city. Investigations have now uncovered that Atif Salim used to initiate students into addiction through ganja chocolates for a low price. Once they were addicted, he sold them marijuana or e-cigarettes filled with hashish oil at exorbitant prices.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 5:34:26 AM |

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