Kerala

Kerala turns transit point for drug smuggling

Hashish oil, other drugs taken to Gulf countries

The State has turned into a transit point for huge quantities of drugs, especially hashish oil, being smuggled into the Gulf countries. The mafias involved have cross-border links and are widely exploiting the Gulf connections of Keralites. Intelligence figures show that less than 5% of the hashish oil and other potent narcotic drugs, including synthetic drugs like MDMA, smuggled into the Gulf countries through Kerala’s airports are getting caught. Rarely do drug seizures in airports in the Gulf countries involving Malayalis become news in the mainstream or social media in the State.

Hundreds of Keralites are cooling their heels in jails in the Gulf countries after being caught while smuggling drugs. Many of them have unwittingly fallen into the trap set by drug peddlers. Dozens have been executed, especially in Saudi Arabia, where laws are stringent.

Dire need for money

Invariably, most victims of the drug mafia have been from economically and educationally poor backgrounds.

Excise officers here said that the bulk of the hashish oil reaching Kerala from Andhra was being smuggled out to the Gulf. When a small portion is distributed in small vials in cities and metros in the State, the large chunk is exported to the Gulf using naive Malayali passengers. Some of the carriers were found to have opted for it out of their dire necessity for money.

“Pickle bottles and thick clothes are being used for smuggling out hashish oil. They cleverly hide the drug in such a way as to escape detection by scanners,” said Assistant Excise Commissioner B. Venugopala Kurup. Hashish oil is quite thick and therefore can be neatly laid out in thin layer with a plastic covering.

The inner layers of clothes are often used for smuggling this drug, which costs a minimum ₹2 lakh a kg in the State and procures ten times or more in the Gulf.

“We have found that a strong and organised drug mafia is functioning with deep connections in countries such as Bahrain and Kuwait,” said Excise Deputy Commissioner V.P. Sulesh Kumar. Intelligence sources said that the Maldives was another transit point for smuggling out hashish and other drugs. The drug gangs maintain a steady watch over the emigration and customs scenarios in the airports in Kerala and the Maldives, and make use of the changing situations.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 1:59:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/state-turns-transit-point-for-drug-smuggling/article29317217.ece

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