Drugs/ Narcotics: India

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States with more than 500 drugs-related arrests, 2014; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, June 16, 2016
State-wise beneficiaries assisted in alcohol and drug rehab, April-December 2015; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, July 1, 2016
Opium poppy eradication in 2014, India and the world; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, July 2, 2016

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Central Bureau of Narcotics(CBN)

The Times of India

Jan 22 2015

Before 1950, laws dealing with narcotic drugs came under the Opium Act 1857 & 1878 and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1930. These were merged in 1950 after the formation of the opium department, now known as the Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN). CBN is responsible for supervision of licit cultivation of opium and for enforcing laws on illegal trade and use of drugs.

Cost of drugs


See graphic.

The cost of marijuana, hashish, opium and heroin and India and the world in 2016; The Times of India, June 20, 2017

Court rulings

Entire quantity of mix can’t be treated as drug: HC

Ajay Sura, August 31, 2018: The Times of India

The Punjab and Haryana high court has held that if a narcotic substance is mixed with a harmless one, then police should consider only the amount of narcotics in the mixture while booking an accused. This is especially true while deciding on whether the drug seized from an individual is of commercial quantity or not.

The Punjab government had insisted — during the hearing of a case before Justice Rajbir Singh Sehrawat — that the entire mixture should be considered while deciding quantity. But the HC said that if this logic was accepted, even objects of daily living and hospital use, like water and glucose, would be seen as psychotropic substances. The HC added that this would lead to disastrous and absurd results, and gave bail to a resident of Nawanshahr district.

The Narcotics, Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act gives a specific quantity according to which a drug is seen as either for personal consumption or for commercial use, which is smuggling or peddling. The punishment is much higher if the quantity seized falls in the commercial category.

Drug trade

Nigerians top list of foreigners held in drug trade/ 2009

Jayaraj Sivan | TNN 09

The Times of India

Drug trade.png

Chennai: Every third foreign national arrested for drug-related offences in the country last year was from Africa and every fourth from Nigeria alone. Neighbouring Nepal (48 arrests), which didn’t lag far behind either, along with Nigeria, accounted for almost 50% of the total 199 arrests of foreigners effected for drug offences. Mynamarese form the third biggest chunk on the list with 19 arrests. Foreigners are, however, hugely outnumbered by locals in the trade. For every foreigner arrested, 99 Indians were also picked up, according to the 2008 annual report of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) released recently.

African drug syndicates pose a major challenge to drug enforcement agencies in India, primarily because of their trans-national links. Located within reach of the South American cocaine belt, West African nationals, especially Nigerians, play a decisive role in the drug’s trafficking. Often, cartels prey on the African diaspora. ‘‘Many, who come to India as students or businessmen, unwittingly bump into drug smugglers when people of the same nationality meet. Lured by the prospect of quick money, some of them fall into the trap. We’ve come across many first-time offenders among Africans,’’ said south zone director of NCB, S Davidson Devasirvatham.

Apart from Nigerians arrested last year (50), other African nationals who figured on the Indian drug radar are Tanzanians (5), Zambians and South Africans (3 each), Kenyans and citizens of Ivory Coast (two each) and one each from Cameroon, Uganda, Congo and Liberia. Barring Zambia, India doesn’t have a bilateral agreement or memorandum of understanding on sharing information on drugrelated crimes with any of these African nations.

While Africans take heroin out of the country, they bring cocaine back into India to exploit its potential as a recreation drug in metros like Delhi and Mumbai and some tourist destinations, says NCB director general OPS Malik in the report. A total of 50 seizures adding up to 12 kg of cocaine, which has a street price of Rs 3,000 per line of 0.5 gram, was made across Indian cities last year.

The most preferred modusoperandi is to send the contraband through ‘‘post or courier parcels’’ and ‘‘human mules’’, mainly women from South East Asian countries. A large number of locals are also used. This modus operandi gives the advantage of anonymity to the actual kingpins and makes it difficult for investigating agencies to trace the masterminds of the trade. It also ensures that seizures don’t leave a financial dent on the traffickers’ operating costs.

A senior police officer said, ‘‘We have information that several Nigerians who were involved in SMS and e-mail lottery frauds had used the booty for the narcotics trade. This helps them operate virtually without any capital investment.’’

Although the number of arrested foreigners went up from 181 to 199 between 2007 and 2008, there is no perceivable long-term trend as regards their involvement in the overall trade of narcotics in the country. In 2006, 232 foreigners were arrested as the trade saw a sudden spurt in the involvement of foreign nationals in drug trafficking, but the number fell the next year, only to go up again in 2008.

African nationals concentrate primarily on the traditional trafficking route of heroin — from Pakistan to India through western borders.

Cities with the highest drug trafficking: 2012

Drug 12.jpg

With 1,512 cases, Mum tops in drug trafficking/ 2012-13

Delhi Second With 829 Cases: NCRB

The Times of India Jun 23 2014

Of the over 50 Indian cities which reported maximum cases of drug trafficking in 2012, the national capital is at the second spot behind Mumbai while Punjab leads among states followed by Uttar Pradesh, indicates National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data.

Citing comprehensive data available for 2012, the NCRB said Mumbai registered maximum cases of drug trafficking at 1,512 followed by Delhi with 829 cases therefore leading the group of 53 Indian cities that are highly active when it comes to drug trade.

Data for 2013 is yet to be compiled.

Delhi is followed by Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) with 551 cases, Amritsar with 457, and Kota (Rajasthan), with 242 cases. Meanwhile, the lowest number of cases were registered in Vasai Virar of Maharashtra (2), followed by Aurangabad in Bihar (3), Dhanbad and Ranchi (4 each) and Vadodara and Rajkot (5 each). A total of 29,247 cases under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, were registered in 2012 compared to previous year’s 29,048 cases.

As per the state wise NCRB data, Punjab has emerged at the top position with 10,220 registered cases in 2012 followed by UP with 6,755 cases, Maharashtra, 1,903 cases, Tamil Nadu, 1,402 cases and Rajasthan with 1,115 cases.

J&K registered 411 cases while Gujarat, despite sharing its border with Pakistan, which is major supplier of narcotics, registered only 68 cases.

The lowest number of cases were reported from Sikkim (3) followed by Andaman and Nicobar Islands (4), Puducherry (6) and Lakshadweep (11).

The data further said a total of 13,459 people, including 216 foreigners, were arrested and 89,519 kg of drugs including opium, morphine, heroin, ganja, hashish, cocaine, methaqualone, ephedrine, LSD, acetic anhydride, and amphetamine were recovered. IANS

The illegal drugs seized in 2015 and which Indian state consumes more of which narcotic; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India Jan 7 2016

Narcotics: Delhi transit hub/ 2013

Delhi transit hub in narcotics corridor


Dwaipayan Ghosh TNN

The Times of India

New Delhi: Data released by Narcotics Control Bureau on International Day Against Drug Abuse has once again shown how Delhi is rapidly emerging as a transit point of high-end drugs smuggled by international cartels.

While the capital lags behind other states in use of ganja and opium, it ranks high in consumption of party drugs such as ketamine and cocaine. Maharashtra is the top consumer of party drugs, according to this data. Between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, a total of 143.43kg ketamine has been seized in Delhi compared to Maharashtra (2,170kg) and Tamil Nadu (596kg). Ketamine is produced illegally in the latter states for supply to southeast Asian countries. The fact that Delhi ranks three on the list when it is not even a major producer indicates it is a transit point. Police said this is due to its unique location between producers Afghanistan and Commonwealth of Independent States nations and consumers in southeast Asia.

According to top officers in the narcotics wing and NCB officials, pseudoephedrine—used to make party drugs like ‘Speed’ and ‘Ecstasy’—is a good example of a transit drug. The total seizure of pseudoephedrine in the past one year in north, east and northeast India have been more than 4,500kg.

The figures also include a cocaine haul of 5,429kg and 180kg heroin. The cocaine circuit is dominated by African cartels who also engage in heroin trade. But most of the heroin seized in the capital are of southwest Asian origin and enters India through Pakistan border, says an NCB study.

Security agencies have long believed that some of the money in this trade is actually a portion of narco-terrorism wherein profits from selling this drug is used to fund terror activities. A total of 612.08kg hashish, 955.58kg ganja and 233.42kg opium were also seized from the capital in this one year. A new item on the list is ATS (amphetamine-type stimulants). Over 6.5kg ATS was seized in the city vis-à-vis Maharashtra (40kg).

“It is believed that, due to establishment of special ATS labs, some foreign operatives are using the country’s huge chemical base to source raw materials and produce such drugs. Drug hauls on Delhi-Manipur route show they are being trafficked to Myanmar,” the NCB noted.

“Recent seizures of Kolkatabound consignments in eastern and northern India indicate that the mafia is using West Bengal's ports to smuggle banned drugs to South America. A group of pharmaceutical companies are handing out stocks from Uttarakhand. This is then brought to Delhi en route to northeast, Myanmar and Thailand. The processing is completed in factories there before the drugs are pushed backed to India. While a portion returns to party circles in Delhi and Mumbai, the rest is shipped out to Colombia and Uruguay where these drugs are in high demand,” said an NCB official.

NCB also asked agencies to crack down on abuse of prescription drugs with the smuggling of codeine-based Phensedyl increasing across borders.

The extent of the problem

1999-2017: drug consumption, all-India


See graphic  :

1999-2017, the all-India consumption of ‘weed,’ hashish, opium and heroin

Punjab, 2016

Rohan Dua 27% of Punjab cop aspirants found doping used marijuana, Oct 13 2016 : The Times of India

Candidates Also Used Performance Boosters, Morphine, Opium

The compilation of data on candidates who failed the dope test during the Punjab police recruitment process has shown that 1,775 out the 6,558 aspirants who tested positive for drugs had used marijuana.

The recruitment of around 7,416 constables, announced in July , was largely seen as a poll sop ahead of the 2017 elections, and nearly 3,75,862 candidates had appeared for the test.

According to the details accessed by TOI, marijuana was the most commonly used substance by the candidates.

Performance drug amphetamine was detected in 1,672 candidates, while 1,372 had used benzodiazepine, and morphine was found in 1,238. Apart from this, samples of 388 candidates were found to have traces of multiple drugs, including heroin and opium.

Under fire over drug use and trade in Punjab, SAD had introduced this test to help improve its image before the elections. Most of the aspirants who failed the test were from Fazilka and Patiala.While 396 drug abusing candidates were found in Patiala, 386 such candidates were detected in Fazilka.

Women candidates (almost 1.23 lakh) did not have to take the dope test.

According to an AIIMS survey, there are nearly 8.6 lakh opioid users and 2.3 lakh opioid drug dependents in Punjab. The state is already facing a massive political war about political patronage to drug mafia. Enforcement Directorate (ED) is also investigating the Rs 6,000-crore synthetic drug scam.

Why Punjab’s war on drugs is failing/ 2019

Sanjeev Verma, April 13, 2019: The Times of India

A big issue in every poll, the state’s fight against substance abuse is floundering in face of newer products and rising addiction

Drug abuse was a big issue in the 2014 parliamentary elections in Punjab and had dented the SAD-BJP alliance’s performance. In the run-up to the 2017 assembly elections, Congress claimed it would break the supply line of drugs within a month of coming to power. But despite efforts of enforcement agencies, the state’s drug problem continues unabated.

This can be seen from the seizures made by different law enforcement agencies. In 2017, after the model code of conduct was announced on January 4, cash, drugs and alcohol worth Rs 127 crore had been seized over just a month. This included 11.92 kg of heroin and 2,342 kg of poppy husk. In comparison, during the model code of conduct from March 10 to April 11 this year, Rs 200 crore in contraband and cash was seized. This included 65 kg heroin, 3,808 kg poppy husk and 99 kg opium.

In 2016 and 2017, a total of 18,215 FIRs were filed against offenders under the NDPS Act. Since April 2017, the number of FIRs filed has reached 23,869.

Opium, also known as ‘doda’, and poppy husk, or ‘bhukki’, have traditionally been consumed by farmers and farm workers here. But in the last few years, ‘chitta’ (heroin) has arrived. In 2017, he oin sold at Rs 2,500 to Rs 4,000 per gram. Now the same amount costs Rs 3,500-Rs 5,000.

There is a deep nexus between gangs and politicians. This came to the fore with the arrest of former deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Jagdish Singh Bhola and the unearthing of a Rs 6,000-crore racket in 2013.

“We keep getting demands from politicians to free their men caught peddling drugs. That has not changed in the last few years,” said a senior police officer on condition of anonymity.

In 2018, DGP-rank officer Siddharth Chattopadhyaya raised questions in the Punjab and Haryana high court on the alleged drugs links of then DGP Suresh Arora and incumbent state police head Dinkar Gupta. From June 2017 till date, over 13 policemen, from constables to inspectors, have been arrested and drugs as well as cash seized from them.

The government itself claims a lot has been done on the front. “We have opened de-addiction and OOAT (Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment) centres. We have constituted anti-drug STF and involved civil society members. Vacant posts of psychiatrists and doctors have been filled and some more are being advertised. We have also finalised mental health rules to regulate de-addiction and rehabilitation centres,” said Punjab health and family welfare minister Brahm Mohindra.

But the state opposition is unconvinced. “Smugglers change loyalty with change of government. Most arrested persons are peddlers; the big smugglers are out of reach of police. In a number of cases of influential smugglers, police submit weak evidence and they easily get bail,” said leader of opposition in the state assembly and AAP MLA from Dirba, Harpal Singh Cheema.

Rehabilitation, too, remains a problem. The health department had in 2017 prepared a report highlighting lack of facilities and staff, rampant torture, illegal confinement and overcrowding of addicts at these centres, many of which also lack psychiatrists.

A police team in Ropar had in October 2018 raided a private unregistered de-addiction centre, Jand Sahib Gurmukhi Academy, near Chamkaur Sahib, and released 200 patients who were being routinely beaten up. Some had broken limbs. There have been reports of private centres tying up addicts and torturing them, and of staff illegally supplying addicts with drugs.

Doctors at de-addiction centres say that with the price of heroin going up, many suppliers have begun to take recourse to deadly concoctions that are cheaper than the unadulterated product. “Peddlers now even mix medicines and pesticides with heroin. Concoction of drugs starts when supply breaks down, triggering a rise in price,” explained Anti-drugs STF chief, ADGP Gurpreet Kaur Deo.

“Peddlers mix talcum powder, Tramadol painkiller tablets and paracetamol tablets in heroin to increase the quantity. Since these are not soluble in blood like heroin, it clogs arteries and causes death,” Dr PD Garg, head of psychiatry department, Amritsar Government Medical College, said. Sometimes the addict takes ‘cut drugs’ through injections and the reaction is so fast that he does not even get time to take out the syringe from his body.

Punjab state drug controller Dr Pradeep Kumar Mattu said the government has raided numerous chemist shops to check sale of medicines without prescription or licence. After already restricting sale of six chemical salts or medicines being misused by addicts, the state government is in the process of adding Tramadol tablets to the list.

This, it is hoped, will help reduce availability of narcotic options to addicts. But it will take a long while yet for the situation to improve drastically.

2017: Drug abuse in Haryana

Ajay Sura , Drug abuse: Haryana catching up with neighbour Punjab, Aug 14, 2017: The Times of India

CHANDIGARH: Not just Punjab, which has been in news for unprecedented drug abuse in the country , neighbouring Haryana also has statistics which show that spiralling opioid epidemic is also damaging young lives there.

As per the data received from the State Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (SDDTC), Rohtak, the state has witnessed alarming increase in the number of drug addicts in the past seven years. Most shocking is the steep increase of addicts of opioid that includes the addiction of drugs heroin, smack, opium, tramadol and spasmo proxyvon. The number of such addicts have increased seven times from 144 in 2010 to 921 in 2016.

According to experts, the main reason for the substan tial increase in the new form of drugs is the effective supply chain of these substances in Haryana.

In 2010, the number of addicts who visited the centre for treatment was 774, which reached 3,707 till December 2016 and the data reveals that the number is growing every year. The SDDTC is the apex centre in the state, which has also been notified as drug treatment centre by the central government.

While the highest number of persons visiting the centre are addicts of alcohol, the number of persons addicted to other narcotic substances like cannabis and multiple drugs are also increasing considerably .

Talking to TOI, Dr Rajiv Gupta, director of the SDDTC and chief executive officer, institute of mental health, University of Health Sciences, Rohtak, said that situation of drug abuse in Haryana was alarming as a substantial number of addicts are shifting to new form of drugs. "Astonishingly , while interacting with addicts we found that just with a single phone call six-seven drugs peddlers were available at the doorstep.

Even in Haryana jails, it is easily available because the supply chain of drugs in the state is very acti ve. We have been running awareness campaigns and holding counselling sessions but no change would be visible unless the supply chain is stopped," Gupta claimed.

He added that there was inadequate official machinery to deal with the drug mafia in the state and they had been writing to the state on several occasion about the menace.Dr Gupta claimed that while opium and smack was popular in rural areas, synthetic drug was widespread in districts bordering Punjab and Rajasthan and NCR areas in Gurugram.

A study by the centre has also found that most of the addicts coming for treatment are from both urban and rural areas while 70% are in the age group of 17 to 40 years.

Dr Vinay Kumar, assistant professor, SDDTC, said that they had also found that in rural areas drugs were being administered by quacks in the name of pain reliever, which ultimately was leading to addiction among them. He added that most of women addicts coming from rural areas have been found addicted to such injections.

The Myanmar route


₹24cr heroin haul leads cops to new drug route via Myanmar, May 23, 2018: The Times of India

After the haul of heroin worth Rs 24 crore, the Special Cell of Delhi Police has stumbled on the details of the new route through which heroin is being pumped into the country from Myanmar. After being manufactured and packed in the Golden Triangle — Laos, Myanmar and Thailand — the drug is being transported through areas like Mandalay and Bhamo in northeast Myanmar and in to India from Moreh in Manipur.

The cops said a large number of trucks running on National Highway 2 and bound for the capital carry the drug in secret cavities. Due to competitive pricing and superior quality, heroin from Myanmar is sought after by consumers.

Pramod Kushwaha, DCP (Special Cell), confirmed on Monday that in its latest operation, the cell arrested three smugglers, Taibali from Manipur and Islamuddin and Shohidur Rahman from Assam, with 6kg of heroin. On questioning, the trio spilled the beans on the operations of their cartel.

“A team led by ACP Attar Singh and inspector Shiv Kumar learnt the suspects would come to Indraprastha Park on Ring Road. Taibali arrived with the bag of drugs and was handing over to the two others when they were nabbed,” said Kushwaha.

Taibali apparently told police that he had been transporting drugs for a decade and got a commission for bringing consignments to Deli and supplying them to some African-origin distributors. He had supplied more than 150kg of heroin to city peddlers in an operation that is headed by a person based in Manipur.

“The kingpin in Manipur has links with drug suppliers in Myanmar and he receives huge consignments of heroin from that country,” Kushwaha said, adding, “There also is widespread illegal cultivation of opium in Manipur’s border areas that is turned into opium and then into heroin.

The cops pointed out a perceptible change in the pattern of how heroin comes to India in the last few years. “Supply from Myanmar and Manipur has shot up due to better quality and lesser costs, dampening the demand of heroin produced in the traditional areas of Bareilly, Badaun, Barabanki, etc, in UP, Jhalawar in Rajasthan and Mandsore in MP,” said Kushwaha.

The crackdown on the Afghanistan-Pakistan-India route has also made smuggler look at the porous borders and difficult terrain in the Northeast areas, turning the region into a safe haven for drugs. A few years ago, the government had considered creating a 10-kilometre fence there to deter drug smugglers.



See graphic:

Drug smuggling through courier or postal service, parcels seized, 2013-March 2016

Drug smuggling through courier or postal service, parcels seized, 2013-March 2016; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, April 29, 2016

Eight party drug factories busted/ 2015

The Times of India, January 21, 2016

Eight party drug factories were busted in 2015: their location and the drugs that they manufactured; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, January 21, 2016

8 party drug factories busted in a yr 

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence has busted eight illicit drug factories across India in the last one year and has unearthed at least 11 other drug cartels that had their networks spread from Vadodara to Delhi and from Dehradun to Kala Amb in Himachal Pradesh. While Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad and other megacities were always a target for drug cartels which pushed amphetamine-based party drugs like Ice, Ecstasy and Meow Meow, some of the latest busts have been in places like Dehradun and Mt Abu--with a high student population and boarding schools--which has sent alarm bells ringing.

The latest illicit drug factory to be raided was in Delhi's neighbourhood Bhiwadi, just two days before Christmas, manufacturing psychotropic substances (party drugs) ketamine. Over 64 kg of the chemical was seized.

Just an year ago, on February 27, DRI had seized 500 kg of mephedrone in the national capital, and the trail led to unearthing of an illicit drug factory in Sholapur, Maharashtra.Mephedrone is produced by making a change in the chemical composition in other banned psychotropic substances such as ephedrine to escape prosecution.However, after a lot of reported abuse of the substance, the gov ernment brought it under the prohibited category liable for prosecution under the NDPS Act last year. A tablet of Ecstasy or Meow Meow comes cheap compared to the street price of cocaine and is popular in party circles . Many pharmaceutical companies are believed to be behind diversion of the precursor chemicals which are used by car els to manufacture these drugs.

Marijuana: Delhi: Hauls doubled in 2015 from 2014

The Times of India, January 27, 2016

Narcotics- related crimes in Delhi, cases and arrests, 2011-15; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, January 27, 2016

Rajshekhar Jha

The capital is on a high--if police figures on the seizure of banned narcotic substances in 2015 are to be taken as evidence. And while cocaine use might be on the wane, marijuana's popularity among Delhiites is shooting up, making drug cartels eye the capital with interest. The belief of drug enforcement agencies that the demand and supply of marijuana is growing in the capital was corroborated by Delhi Police data showing seizure of marijuana at 3,763 kg last year, double the 1,782 kg bagged by the police in 2014. The busting of a supply module from Odisha in October last year indicated newer traffickers other than the usual ones in Punjab and UP. The Crime Branch had seized 180 kg of ganja, as marijuana is more popularly known, worth Rs 43 lakh and arrested five men for the Odisha racket, in which the opiate was being transported to Delhi nonstop in SUVs driven by a series of men.

Apprehension of charas, or cannabis resin, also shot up from 37 kg in 2014 to around 55 kg in 2015. Charas is prepared manually in areas like Malana, Kasaul and so me other places in Himachal Pradesh.

In 2015, Delhi's party-goers also started experimenting with new drugs, Meow Meow being the most dangerous and addictive among them. The entry of Meow Me ow, limited to Mumbai till 2014, indicates how organized and lucrative Delhi's drug market is becoming. Police data showed most consumers of this chemical compound to be college students and youngsters. Several students of Delhi University were investigated after a Meow Meow ring was busted by the north district police. To evade the cops, the traffickers got customers to identify themselves over the phone using a cat call. The fact that the arrested peddlers were planning to sell the drug at the Scrillex music event in Gurgaon showed the peddlers were keen to branch out into the NCR.

However, apart from these, the Delhi Police registered an all-time low in terms of arrests and recoveries for other narcotics. The police said that their inability to raid the sources, most of them outside India, was the reason for the lukewarm results. Police snagged 35 kg of heroin and cocaine put together in 2015, when it had seized 133 kg of heroin alone a year earlier.And though believed to be rampant in the capital, the recovery of just 1 kg of cocaine in 2015 contrasted hugely from the 4 kg bagged in 2014.

LSD, the most powerful psychotropic drug available globally , was first noticed in the capital in 2013. The highprofile death of NRI Anmol Sarna in Kalkaji had confirmed the presence of the drug in Delhi's party circles. However, the police's success in checking this drug, suspected to originate mostly in Russia, has been minimal.Compared with 34 grams in 2014, only seven grams of LSD were recovered in 2015.

The 2015 trends show growing use of drugs in the capital fed by a more organised network of peddlers. Delhi Police certainly have their task cut out in nipping this in the bud.

Rs 2k cr drug haul leads to bad blood in FDA/ 2016

2016: Rs 2k cr drug haul leads to bad blood in FDA

Sumitra DebRoy, Rs 2k cr drug haul leads to bad blood in FDA, Oct 06 2016 : The Times of India

In probably the first action of this nature, a top Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official has written to the state government and the Narcotics Control Bureau recommending that seven of its own officers, including the drug controller of Maharashtra and three joint commissioners, be charged under the stringent Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act for “negligence“ in the Rs 2,000 crore ephedrine drug haul. The move has created ripples in the organisation, dividing the drug regulatory body like never before.

In April this year, the Thane crime branch busted what they claimed was one of the country's biggest drug rackets. They found that the controlled substance ephedrine and its salts were stolen out of the premises of Avon Life Sciences, Solapur, and sold in the illegal drug market after purification. The FDA 's vigilance department had subse quently carried out three inspections of the factory and found 28 violations under the NDPS as well as the Drug and Cosmetics Act.

Additionally, the vigilance team under joint commissioner (vigilance) Harish Baijal found that the FDA officials--right from the drug inspectors to joint commissioners--were negligent of not carrying out timely inspections of Avon premises, granting fresh licences without thorough record-checking and failing to prosecute the company for breaches over the years.Around 21,500kg of DL ephedrine base was illegally sold to two other smaller companies without permission.

Based on the findings, Baijal recommended that seven officials be charged under Section 59 of the NDPS Act, applicable to an officer who stops performing his roles or withdraws from duties. If charged, the FDA officials could face a jail term of up to one year.

The report said there was a total failure of regulatory mechanism in a serious subject such as narcotics control and blamed it for facilitating the commission of offence by drug dealers.

The report revealed that Avon premises was not inspected even once between 2013 and July 2015 when the Drug and Cosmetics Act mandates at least one annual visit. The report further states that the drug inspectors did not send detailed reports of their visits to their seniors. The seniors, too, allegedly never bothered to check what was going on in a company that was manufacturing seven out of eight licensed products with controlled substances. The officials even ingnored internal reports of the company that spoke of raw material thefts.

The officers named in the report are drug controller O S Sadhwani, joint commissioner B R Masal, joint commissioner S T Patil (retired), assistant commissioner S M Sakrikar, assistant commissioner M S Jawanjal Patil, drug inspectors V R Ravi and B D Kadam.

Amount of drugs seized during 2016

India Today , Drug Nation “India Today” 27/2/2017

India's narcotics habits

Rajasthan: Drugs worth Rs 10,000 crore seized/ 2016

Drugs worth Rs 10,000 crore seized from Raj pharma factory, Nov 02 2016 : The Times of India

In one of the biggest drug hauls in Rajasthan, the narcotics department, BSF and the directorate of revenue intelligence have seized about 25 tonnes of illegal ephedrine powder estimated to be worth over Rs10,000 crore from a pharmaceutical factory in Udaipur and its two godowns in Udaipur and Rajsamand on Friday . The operation began with the seizure of the factory and godowns last week, while the assessment and seizure continued on Tuesday .

The factory belongs to Ravi Dudhani, nephew of international drug dealer Subash Dudhani who operated from Dubai.The drug manufactured was supplied through a large network of agents.

State with highest quantity of seizure and respective drugs/2017

See graphic.

State with highest quantity of seizure and respective drugs, 2017; The Times of India, February 14, 2017

MV Hennry: 1,446-kg of heroin

Miffed captain took ship to India, not Egypt, August 7, 2017: The Times of India, August 7, 2017

Investigations into “heroin ship“ Hennry that yielded a record 1,446-kg haul of the drug have uncovered a plot that reads like a crime thriller, replete with a daring double cross and an international conspiracy stretching from Chhapra (Bihar) to Pakistan, Iran and Abu Dhabi.

The linkages also lead to Mumbai and Sealdah, which seem part of a drugs-and-hawala deal that officials say was intended to fetch Rs 200 crore. The questioning of 11 arrested accused, including eight crew and three on-shore Indians linked to captain of the vessel Suprit Tiwari, has revealed that the contraband was to be sold through hawala channels based in Chhapra, Sealdah and Kolkata. Tiwari, aged 26, was working for Saiyed Ali Manori, the Iranian owner of vessel MV Hennry -earlier called Prince 2. It was on Manori's instructions that Tiwari took command of the vessel in May 2017 in the port of Bandar Abbas in Iran. He was to pick the heroin from the Gwadar port in Pakistan and head for Egypt.

But he developed ideas of his own. Tiwari took the vessel 70 nautical miles off the Gwadar port, where small boats loaded the heroin on it.But apparently unhappy with the not insubstantial Rs 50 crore offered to him, he decided to outsmart Manori and set off for India.

The massive haul has the agencies worried as the Rs 100-200 crore cost points to a wholesale rate of Rs 713 lakh per kg of pure white heroin by sea route, higher than the Rs 5-10 lakh per kg that the land border route to Punjab fetches. “We are concerned that the risk and cost of using the sea route has become attractive for smugglers,“ an intelligence officer said.

As Tiwari headed for the Gujarat coast, he set off several alarms as an intelligence input about a suspicious vessel revived memories of 2611.Initial inputs generated by NTRO on July 27 referred to the vessel by its original name `Prince 2' which was moving fast towards Bhavnagar and preparing to offload the consignment off the Jamnagar coast, though the exact venue was to be decided in consultation with Indian links.

Three of these local links have been identified as Vishal Kumar of Mumbai, his deputy Vijay Pandian and Shaikh Irfan who deals in shipbreaking at the Alang shipyard in Bhavnagar, and are currently under arrest. The vessel was to be eventually scrapped at Alang. The inputs also indicated that the consignment was to be originally sold for Rs 500 crore in Egypt, of which Manori would retain 70% or Rs 350 crore, while Vishal, one Devender of Bihar and Tiwari would get 10% each (Rs 50 crore).

Prince 2, which had started its journey from Iran, first docked at Abu Dhabi where Tiwari was met by Devender, Khalid Mohammed of Pakistan and Mustafa of Iran. Its name became MV Hennry and a special cavity was created in the vessel's diesel tanks to stash the heroin. Tiwari was in touch with Vishal in Mumbai. Vishal, an oilman with the Sealantic Company of UAE, is a narcotics smuggler who had spent over two years in a Greek prison for a seizure of 2 tonnes of narcotics.

The vessel was intercepted on the basis of inputs that were shared by Intelligence Bureau's multi-agency centre in real-time with the Coast Guard, three state police and three foreign counterparts.

Investigations are under way to identify antecedents of the crew and owner of the ship, besides the Iranian, Abu Dhabi and Pakistani linkages as well as the intended customers of the consignment.

Which drugs are most widely used?

2013: poppy husk

2013:narcotics seized, category-wise

The Times of India, Jan 22 2015

In 2013, quantity wise, poppy husk constituted the biggest chunk of seizures. The second largest chunk was derivatives of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate similar to but more potent than morphine, often mixed with heroin or cocaine to amplify their potency.

Punjab, 2015: Opioids worth Rs 7,500 crore consumed annually

Drug addiction in the Punjab: Salient aspects of the problem; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Jan 15 2016

The Times of India, Jan 15 2016

Shimona Kanwar

Punjab sinking in Pak drugs worth Rs 7,500cr|yr: AIIMS

At a time when the nexus between terrorists and drug smugglers in Pakistan has come under the spotlight after the Pathankot airbase attack, a new study by AIIMS has found that opioids worth Rs 7,500 crore are consumed in Punjab annually . Of these, heroin's share is a massive Rs 6,500 crore. This is a startling revelation given that almost all the heroin that comes to Punjab is through the Pakistan border, pumped in by smugglers allegedly aided by ISI. It is this smuggler network that the terrorists who attacked the Pathankot airbase are believed to have used. Security agencies have so far insisted that Pakistani heroin is not consumed in Punjab; it merely passes through to bigger cities like Delhi. But this study -a first of its kind survey by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) at AIIMS -busts the myth.The study covering 10 districts says in a population of around 2.77 crore people, more than 1.23 lakh are dependent on heroin.

Based on the previous studies, Punjab's opioid dependents are four times more than the global average. In effect, not only are the drug smugglers being used to push jihadis into India, they are also creating an army of heroin addicts in Punjab. The study has found that 0.84% (around 2.3 lakh) of the state's population is opioid dependent. It takes into account both opium derivatives as well as artificial substances that have the same effect as opiates on the nervous system.

Previous studies conducted in select districts of Punjab had shown widespread use of synthetic or pharmaceutical opioid drugs. The survey reveals that opioid-dependent people are spending approximately Rs 20 crore daily on these drugs.

On an average, a heroin-dependent individual spends about Rs 1,400 per day . The study -`Punjab opioid dependence survey: Estimation of the size of opioid dependent population in Punjab' -was presented to Punjab health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani on January 6. “I have my doubts about the figure of Rs 20 crore per day . At the same time, the government is seeing this as a warning sign. We will aim for a drug-free state,“ he said.

While around 2.3 lakh people are opioid dependent in Punjab, around 8.6 lakhs are estimated to be opioid users.Heroin-dependents are the highest at 1,23,414. For the survey , the NDDTC collaborated with Delhi-based non-profit organisation Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses.

The study was conducted between February and April 2015. Data was collected from 3,620 opioid-dependents from 10 districts. Among the men aged between 18 and 35, four in 100 are opioid dependent, while 15 in 100 could be opioid users.

“We must also note that this survey estimates a much higher number of injecting drug users in Punjab (around 75,000) as compared to the existing estimate (under 20,000). Thus there is a clear threat of explosive epidemic of HIV among injecting drug users in Punjab,“ said the lead investigator and the principal author of the survey , Dr Atul Ambekar.

In this survey , interviews were conducted mostly at the drug-dependence treatment and rehabilitation centres at the government civil hospitals of Punjab. Each respondent interviewed was asked to send three more people they knew and who were also opioid dependent. The respondents thus came voluntarily to participate in the survey and were interviewed in government hospitals.

2016, Delhi: Synthetic drugs rule parties

The Times of India, Jun 27 2016

Punjab, 2015: Opioids worth Rs 7,500 crore consumed annually ; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Jun 27 2016

Rajshekhar Jha

Synthetic drugs rule party circles

Heroin and cocaine seem passé for the capital's drug market as people are getting high on synthetic drugs. Methamphetamine aka crystal meth and Meow Meow ruled party circles in 2015-16, reveals data released by the Delhi division of Narcotics Control Bureau on International Day against Drug Abuse. The data shows that consumption and seizures of heroin and cocaine dipped drastically by as much as four times this year--from 33kg in 2014-15, seizures came down to 9kg in 2015-16. Cocaine too dropped by half, from 13kg to 7kg. However, seizures of Meow Meow increased from 3kg to 57kg and meth rose to 21kg from 3kg.

The figures were released by NCB director general RR Bhatnagar and zonal director (Delhi) Rohit Sharma on Sunday. “In 2014-15, we conducted 36 operations and arrested 46 people, including 25 Indians and 21 foreigners. In 2015-2016, we conducted 47 operations and arrested 27 people,“ Sharma said.

The central drug enforcement agency has also identified how drugs travel from across the border and through the country . Heroin is mainly smuggled from Pakistan through six ways. “The floating method involves the sea route. Conceal and clear method involves using PVC pipes and throwing the consignment across the fence on the border. We have also found drugs concealed in white ce ment sacks and moved across the border in trucks,“ Sharma added.

Once it reaches Delhi, heroin is shipped to European and American countries concealed in small parcels by air.The drug is concealed by creating false cavities in books, paintings, machinery parts, combs, designer clothing, shoe soles, decoration items, skipping ropes, artefacts, soft toys, baby clothes, saree falls, ghagras, etc, the NCB said.

Cocaine is concealed in the personal baggage of people travelling to Latin American countries, especially Brazil, by creating false cavities or concealing in food products like milk powder.

Professional “swallo wers“ also traffic cocaine by stuffing the drug in small capsules sheathed in cellophane, rubber or gelatin. The swallowed capsules are retrieved after passing out stool in the destination country .Besides this, cocaine also reaches India from Brazil concealed in courier parcels. “Methaqualone is mostly carried by concealing it in the false cavities of baggage.It is also shipped through parcels. Charas is carried by carriers travelling to Delhi through road or rail. Apart from local consumption, charas is also shipped abroad in parcels concealed in musical instruments, books, wooden decoration pieces, rings of curtains, etc,“ Sharma said.

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