Sachets of love sips seized from Wadi Bunder by the police
Karan Thakkar can clearly recall that dark day in December last year when he sought a bigger 'high'. The 17-year-old was already a chain-smoker and an alcohol addict when he joined a top south Mumbai college, and felt these addictions were "passé". A friend then recommended 'love sip', and Thakkar went off the deep end.
Love sips, slang for small sachets of cocaine, are the new rage among drug users. These resemble sachets of toffee, each containing 0.5 gram of cocaine in its purest form. Peddlers hand them out to youngsters for free in the hopes of getting them addicted and ensuring that they return as customers. This modus operandi was uncovered with the arrest of two Nigerian drug peddlers from Wadi Bunder, who had 40 sachets of cocaine on them, earlier this month.
Youngsters are talked into giving love sips a chance to get a high, but soon, they get addicted and return again and again to get their fix. Illustration/Ravi Jadhav
Thakkar said a friend told him that his search for a stronger drug would end at Wadi Bunder. "He said there were some Nigerian peddlers on the bridge who were offering cocaine for free. He felt that this would be an adventurous start to the world of drugs. We went to the spot and, as told, got love sips for free. That was the start of my cocaine addiction."
The youngster, who is currently in rehab, said his addiction took him to "the brink of death". "This toffee-shaped drug is the most dangerous thing that youngsters can lay their hands on," he warned.
Gaurav Sawant (19) was lucky enough to escape this dangerous trend. He said a friend took him and two others to a desolate spot on the Wadi Bunder bridge six months ago. "He first tasted the love sip and passed it to the rest of us. We hit a high immediately. I don't even remember who dropped me home that night."
Although he liked the high the drug gave, Sawant didn't like the aftertaste. "My friends asked me one day to accompany them to the spot again, but somehow I summoned the courage to turn them down," he said.The teenager said he is now trying to reform drug addicts in his social circles.
Done in by friend
The love sips handed out by Nigerian peddlers was so addictive that Rishabh Gandhi, a student of a south Mumbai college, went back to Wadi Bunder bridge as a paying customer "three to four times". "The first time I had a love sip in February, the peddler said it was a free sample and that if I liked it, I could return to talk about the cost. I went again and again just for fun," he said.
He said he, too, had been introduced to the drug peddlers by a friend. As his addiction grew, Gandhi found himself going back to the spot again and again, once even posing as a new customer just to get his hands on a love sip. "The peddlers didn't recognise me and gave me a free sample. I found out later that even when they recognise people, they hand out free love sips to expand their customer base," said the 21-year-old who is currently in rehab.
Getting loyal clients
An official from the anti-narcotics cell of Azad Maidan police, who unearthed the Wadi Bunder drug racket, said this approach helps drug peddlers ensure that business grows. "This is the best way to establish a customer base. Ninety-five per cent of first-timers turn loyal clients and even help get most customers. Addicts are even offered commissions or concessions to get more people."
Deputy Commissioner of Police Shivdeep Lande confirmed that the racket was unearthed with Nigerian peddlers' arrest this month. "We recovered 40 love sips from them. We are now looking into other gangs that circulate cocaine in this way."
Police sources said the racket started three months ago, with peddlers handing out over 30 love sips a day.
(*Names of drug users have been changed to protect their identities)