Drug peddlers in post-haste mode ahead of year-end revelry

Dope sellers using services of postal department and courier companies to smuggle contraband in and out of the city and the country

Christmas and New Year festivities are still a fair distance away. But drug dealers in the city are already pulling up their socks. And they are increasingly using the services of the postal department and courier companies to smuggle their products to meet the growing demand.

Part and parcel! Postal department officials found 15 kg of drugs,
mostly heroin, inside this parcel in mid-September. pic/MiD DAY

After a successful operation where significant amount of contraband was recovered by the Foreign Post Office (FPO) and customs officials recently, a member of the team revealed to MiD DAY the current trend and modus operandi of peddlers. "During this time every year, the movement of contraband increases. So we have to be really alert. A carbon film is generally used around the place where drugs are kept in the parcel.

Postal department also found drugs concealed inside this lipstick
container and a lehenga recently.

This helps the parcel pass through scanners successfully. Since the quantity of inbound and outbound parcel is huge, technically it's not possible to check each and every one of them manually," said the FPO official, on condition anonymity.

Big haul
"For instance, around 15 kg of drugs, mostly heroin, were recovered from a parcel addressed to New South Wales in Australia in mid-September. Every month we get five to six such cases. But the number doubles during November-December," the official said.

Though not ready to reveal the techniques used by them to identify fishy parcels, officials said that they very carefully observe the writing pattern on envelopes and the destinations to which they are being sent. "Canada, Netherlands, US, Spain and Australia are the hubs where most of these parcels are dispatched. In almost 70-80 per cent cases, our suspicions are accurate," he added.

All international parcels sent from north India pass through FPO in Delhi and the post office has found most of these parcels originating from Delhi, NCR and Punjab. Over a period of two years, over 200 parcels that were being smuggled to international locations were caught during manual checking by FPO and customs officials. In the past FPO has also detected seven to eight cases of ketamine smuggling, which was hidden in tea bags.
A customs official said that most of the cases have been of heroin smuggling, which costs around Rs 1 crore per kilogram. Apart from heroin, charas and cocaine is also shipped in large quantities. 

Investigators have advised courier companies and postal department to check the contents of suspect consignments before accepting them for delivery or handing them over to receivers. "Courier companies should accept packages of only those senders who are willing to provide photo ids as proof," said the official.
Hidden agenda
According to a global report, the use of courier services for drug trafficking in India is on the rise and the country is increasingly being used as a major transit as well as destination country for smuggling of banned substances. A Delhi police official said, "With late night parties and celebrations lined up for Christmas and New Year, drug peddlers enjoy brisk business during the year end. 

During New Year celebrations, illegal trade of narcotics increases manifold. Both LSD and ecstasy are used at rave parties and are very popular with the youth. Other forms of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and charas are also imported from other countries and widely used at high-profile parties. Like every year, strict vigil will be kept in the entire city." Selling and consuming narcotic substances such as cannabis, cocaine, ketamine, opium and brown sugar are banned under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

High and low
Different date-rape drugs and their effects:
>> Gamma hydroxybutyrate or GHB, as it's popularly known, is a common date-rape drug. It's usually added to open-container drinks. It is given to partygoers in hopes of lowering their inhibitions and facilitating a potential sexual conquest for the assailant
>> Rohypnol can be dissolved in a beverage and is undetectable. If combined with alcohol, it can induce a blackout and cause a memory loss for 8 hours to 24 hours. The drug takes effect after around 10 minutes of consumption. Victims may feel dizzy and disoriented, and some become nauseated
>> Ketamine can either be injected or mixed with drinks. It is also known as Special K, K, Vitamin K or Cat Valiums. At high doses, ketamine can cause delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function, high blood pressure, depression, and potentially fatal respiratory problems. Low-dose intoxication from ketamine results in impaired attention, learning ability, and memory

Powder play
Recently an international drug racket was busted in Delhi's south district with the arrest of two Nigerian nationals. The duo was involved in smuggling and supply of cocaine in five-star hotels and pubs and were found in possession of 70.5 gms of fine quality cocaine worth more than a crore. Police had also revealed that cocaine was also supplied some guests and visitors during the Formula One Grand Prix in Greater Noida.

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