Mumbai

Drug racket operating through dark web busted

Caught red handed: Faiz Bhiwandiwala.

Caught red handed: Faiz Bhiwandiwala.  

Accused ordered hydro weed online, sold it to college students

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch has arrested two accused who were allegedly part of a well-organised drug trafficking ring, where cannabis of superior quality was ordered through the dark web and sold to college students in Bandra and nearby areas.

According to Crime Branch officials, assistant police inspector Sudhir Jadhav with the Unit XI received a tip-off that two suspects would be coming to Bandra with “hydro weed”.

Also known as hydroponic cannabis, hydro weed is grown indoors by injecting soil nutrients directly into the marijuana plant, coupled with artificial lighting and pumped water.

Hydro weed is said to be more potent, and sells at ₹2,400 per gram, as opposed to ₹200 to ₹400 charged for a gram of normal cannabis, officials said.

Worth ₹5.37 lakh

A team led by senior police inspector Mahesh Desai and police inspector Sanjeev Gawde laid a trap near Marwah Bhavan compound on Turner Road on Friday and intercepted the two accused, Arif Mithaiwala (22) and Faiz Bhiwandiwala (31).

 

“The duo was found to be in possession of 225 grams of hydro weed, worth ₹5.37 lakh. They were arrested and charged under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act,” a Crime Branch officer said.

Modus operandi

According to inquiries conducted so far, the accused ordered and paid for the drugs through the dark web and picked up a consignment that was sent by air cargo to the domestic terminal of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.

Arif Mithaiwala.

Arif Mithaiwala.  

“The accused surfed the dark web using TOR, a browser that grants anonymity to the user and is favoured by dark web surfers. After they made contact with drug dealers, the conversation moved to Wickr Me, an app with end-to-end encryption, which makes messages exchanged on the platform close to impossible to track,” the officer said.

Less severe penalty

According to Crime Branch sources, hydro weed is gaining popularity among consumers of illegal drugs in India, as it is more potent and can be bought in smaller quantities. The NDPS Act makes a distinction between “personal” and “commercial” quantities of drugs, with the former category attracting less stringent penal measures.

“This case is a classic example. Despite the potency of the drugs, the quantity falls under the personal category. Both accused were granted bail when they were produced in court on Saturday,” another officer, who was part of the operation, said.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 7:03:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/drug-racket-operating-through-dark-web-busted/article31824101.ece

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