Authorities concerned over ephedrine smuggling via Kerala

In drug vernacular, methamphetamine (meth), a narcotic stimulant, is called “mirror” in South Africa because of its crystalline structure. In Iran, it also goes by the street name “Sheesh”.

Superintendent, Narcotic Control Bureau, Kerala, K. G. Venugopal says that meth has emerged as the recreational drug of choice in both these countries. Consequently, the smuggling of its main component, ephedrine, through airports in South India, including Kerala, is a matter of growing concern for enforcers.

(Mr. Venugopal had recently attended a conference where South African drug enforcers were also present.)

In July, Customs agents headed by Commissioner K. N. Raghavan had arrested two African women at Nedumbassery airport on the charge of attempting to smuggle ephedrine to South Africa. Nearly 30 kg of the controlled substance, a vital ingredient in cough syrups and nasal decongestants, was seized from them. Similar seizures were made in Thiruvananthapuram and Karipur airports last year.

Customs enforcers say a New Delhi-based gang is behind the lucrative smuggling operation. The racketeers use the cover of defunct pharmaceutical companies to legally purchase ephedrine at nominal rates (less than Rs.3,000 a kg) and sell it for a much higher price, an estimated Rs.1.75 lakh a kg, to the smugglers.


The drug is brought to Kerala via rail. The carriers are mostly African students. The smugglers underwrite their travel expenses and pay them a handsome fee.

Meth, a ragingly addictive narcotic, is easy and cheap to process than heroin or cocaine. Ephedrine, red-phosphorous and hydroid acid are the chief “pre-cursor” chemicals used in its manufacture.

Drug enforcers say that meth is peddled as a cheap substitute for cocaine in tourist destinations in Goa and South India. However, its abuse is not as widespread as marijuana or buprenorphine, a synthetic opiate prescribed as a pain killer and administered intravenously.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 11:51:02 AM |

Next Story