PMO asks home ministry, NCB to map sources of iIllicit drugs to end menace before addiction becomes endemic

New Delhi: The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has suggested that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) map the availability of illicit drugs and key centres to create a larger picture of drugs movements in a bid to neutralise traffickers and their safe houses. With more than seven crore people addicted to drugs, the government is trying to prevent the problem from turning into a national epidemic and working on several measures to counter peddlers finding their way into the country and to contain the increasing number of illicit drug abusers.

 PMO asks home ministry, NCB to map sources of iIllicit drugs to end menace before addiction becomes endemic

Representational image.

Sources told Firstpost that Prime Minister Narendra Modi insisted that entire country should be mapped for the availability of illicit drugs and main centres of activity should be identified so that specific strategies could be put in place to address this serious issues.

"The prime minister also directed that vulnerable segments and influencers like the young generation and heads of educational institutions should be reached out and the feedback must be incorporated in the proposed strategy to effectively deal with drug menace," sources said.

According to NCB officials, a majority of drugs is finding their way into the country owing to its proximity to South East Asian and South West Asian countries and the historical fact that India’s porous border allows it to be used as transit point for drug traffickers. An internal note of NCB reviewed by Firstpost shows that Afghanistan, which was the major source of heroin, opium and related products accounts for nearly 2/3rd of world production of opium, had been resorting to the alternate sea routes for smuggling to Europe and US through India due to disruption of its three traditional routes — North, South and Balkan route — in the last four-five years. Sri Lanka is another alternate route identified by the NCB and its office in Thiruvananthapuram had unearthed local links. Besides, Pakistan that is pushing drugs into Punjab, the NCB has also unearthed linkages of peddlers with Nepal-based traffickers transporting Hashish and also a huge diversion of Ephedrine across Indo-Myanmar border.

Recently they came across spike in use of dark net and cryptocurrencies as popular modes of trafficking. The documents citing a case in Telangana in which LSD blots, MDMA, Hashish and Ecstacy were seized from Indians and three foreigners said new modus operandi facilitates access to drugs allowing users to avoid direct contact with peddlers. In June 2018, NCB Guwahati zonal office seized a consignment of heroin, opium and tablets of Methamphetamine from Jirania in Tripura and the subsequent investigation traced the origin to Myanmar.

Another operation at Khemkaran in Punjab to neutralise heroin traffickers revealed the source of seized drug was South West Asia. An operation in collaboration with Sashatra Seema Bal at India-Nepal border resulted in the seizure of huge quantity of Hashish and heroin that was being trafficked by Pakistani module based in Nepal. The NCB report also indicates that cocaine is mostly smuggled by African national using air and maritime route. The report flagged an operation on 1 May 2018 at Kempegowda International Airport, Bangalore in which a Ugandan national was arrested. There is also the involvement of Nigerian and Malaysian nationals along with Indians in Ketamine trafficking. The domestic illicit cultivation is also on the rise as documents suggest that destruction of cannabis has increased dramatically since 2013.

The PMO has also suggested that modus operandi and seizure data should be scrutinised for effective planning. It said: "Scientific data analysis must be resorted to for planning an effective strategy."

Since drug trafficking involving transnational syndicates operate through a complex web of channels, a dedicated team drawing officers from various law enforcement agencies are being prepared to understand patterns and dynamics for future operations. A senior NCB official said they are also utilising an institutionalised mechanism under which agencies in the states are trained and provided financial assistance counter drug smuggling and combat drug abuse.

"We are going to disburse Rs 21 crore to states till 2020 as financial assistance besides giving them training and drug detection kits. We have also trained more than 12,000 officers from states and Central agencies. Narco Coordination Centre is also working in close coordination with the states and central agencies on drug trafficking cases," he said.

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Updated Date: Aug 28, 2018 14:28:46 IST