Narcotics Control Bureau busts major DarkNet-based LSD smuggling syndicate

The accused persons, including a girl, were arrested during the simultaneous raids in and around Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They used darknet for procuring the stuff and cryptocurrencies for financial transactions.

Updated - June 06, 2023 09:01 pm IST

Published - June 06, 2023 01:58 pm IST - New Delhi

Six persons have been arrested following the seizure of about 5,000 LSD blots by the Narcotics Control Bureau on June 6, 2023. (Illustration used for representational purpose only.)

Six persons have been arrested following the seizure of about 5,000 LSD blots by the Narcotics Control Bureau on June 6, 2023. (Illustration used for representational purpose only.) | Photo Credit: The Hindu

In a major breakthrough, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has made the largest seizure of LSD, a psychedelic drug also known as acid, in the past two decades and arrested six members of a syndicate having links in countries such as the United States, Netherlands and Poland.

The drug haul includes 14,961 blots of LSD from international brands “Gammagoblin/Holy Spirit of Asura” and 2.23 kg of curated marijuana (imported). The accused persons, including a girl, were arrested during the simultaneous raids in and around Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They used darknet for procuring the stuff and cryptocurrencies for financial transactions.

Also read | NCB, Indian Navy make biggest ever drug haul

NCB Deputy Director General (Northern Range) Gyaneshwar Singh said the agency had been working since long on various leads to identify and dismantle the syndicate whose members were in touch with each other through social media platforms. During the previous major operation against a darknet-based drug syndicate in 2021, it had registered 47 cases and arresting 40 accused, dismantling three darknet/social media drug markets.

The agency received fresh inputs about those dealing in LSD, which were being delivered using courier and postal service channels. In order to track the perpetrators, a special investigation team under the Delhi zonal unit was constituted and intensive technical and field surveillance operations launched. The team zeroed in on a young man from Goa, a student of a Noida-based private university.

During the interrogation, he disclosed that he had been ordering LSD via a private messaging application named “Wickr”. Subsequently, a vendor operating through the same platform was identified. On May 29, the person was arrested in Delhi with 15 blots of LSD. He was trying to get the drugs couriered to a client in Kashmir. The agency seized 650 additional blots from the vendor’s residence.

At his instance, the NCB arrested a Delhi-based girl who was using a virtual identity to evade detection. Even though no recoveries were made from her, her disclosures helped the agency trace her accomplice to Jaipur in Rajasthan. He was arrested on May 30 and 9,006 LSD blots, 2.23 kg of curated marijuana and more than ₹4.65 lakh in cash was seized from his house.

The Jaipur-based vendor had ordered the LSD blots on darkweb and through Wickr. During interrogation, he allegedly disclosed that a large consignment was going to be delivered at a Pimpri-Chinchwad address in Pune. The contraband comprising 5,006 blots was intercepted at India Post office in Bhosari. In the follow-up action, two other accused were arrested in Noida and another in Kerala.

LSD is an odourless, colourless, and tasteless drug. It can be painted onto small squares of paper that people lick or swallow. “A trend of young tech-savvy generation getting involved into drug trafficking using digital platforms, darknet and darkweb has emerged and usage of cryptocurrencies and virtual identities is alarming...,” said an agency official, adding that the NCB had recently organised a “darkathon” in a bid to find solutions.

Earlier, the agency had identified darknet platforms such as DNM India, Dread and a Telegram group named “The Orient Express” and also tracked down the drug smugglers who used pseudo identities. “All the verified vendors over the Telegram group were apprehended. They included the group’s owner, co-owner and the administrator. The vendors were from West Bengal, Gujarat, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh. Many of them were working professionals as well. The drugs were being procured from the U.S., Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom and Canada,” said the official.

Amit Shah congratulates team

Appreciating the NCB’s work, Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted: “Realising PM @narendramodi Ji’s vision to create a drug-free India, the NCB team has busted an international narcotics syndicate and seized 15,000 blots of LSD drug. I congratulate the NCB team on this achievement.”

“Great coordination between cyber vigilance and human intelligence has made it possible as the dark net & cryptocurrencies were used to trade these drugs. Due to intensified vigilance and improved coordination, drug seizures have exponentially increased in India in the last few years,” he said.

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