Kerala

Drug pushers tack off due to travel curbs?

KOCHI The COVID-19-induced international travel restrictions seem to have compelled a shift in the potential destinations of drugs smuggled out by way of courier, the Excise Department suspects.

Previously Malaysia used to be the preferred destination of such consignments smuggled out by way of parcels in the garb of diverse products ranging from saris to flour. But the seizure of 2.50 kg of ganja hidden in a consignment of rice powder, turmeric, and coriander powder from a courier firm in the city has reinforced the suspicion of the excise officials of a potential shift in tactics by the traffickers.

"It was meant for Dubai, whereas in the past all such consignments used to be sent to Malaysia, thanks to the slack enforcement there. Even different ingredients for making drugs used to be smuggled out separately before being combined in fly-by-night drug-making hubs. But now with the travel restrictions in place, drugs seem to be directly sent to the final destination," said a senior excise official.

The nearly ₹200-crore worth MDMA, a premium drug, which eventually turned out to be Ephedrine, one of the 12-odd drugs used in the preparation of MDMA, seized by excise officials in September 2018 from a courier firm had reached there from Chennai and was supposed to be smuggled out to Malaysia hidden in a consignment of saris.

Lucrative gains

The change in ploy in terms of destination, however, seems to be no less lucrative for the parties concerned. The more stringent the anti-drug laws in the destinations the more will be the margin of profits. "For instance, had the 2.50 kg of ganja managed to make its way to Dubai, where strict laws are in place against drugs, the parties concerned would have earned anywhere in the region of ₹50 lakh by distributing it in smaller lots," the official said.

The source of drugs being pushed in this manner seems to have different originating points. While in the instant case it seems to have come from Andhra Pradesh, there seem to be diverse sources.

Bringing it from across the border in Bangladesh to West Bengal and then smuggling it by train to other Indian cities is a common ploy. Iran-Afghanistan-Delhi is another popular route, an excise enforcement official said.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 7:10:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/drug-pushers-tack-off-due-to-travel-curbs/article33185333.ece

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