By day, the vicinity of the BPT grounds at Carnac Bunder is a deserted industrial outpost in an obscure corner of the city, where massive trucks lumber on dusty roads. But as night falls, it is a picture of incongruity. Glistening sedans start moving in stealthily; windows roll down, and hushed conversations follow in the darkening streets -- welcome to the city’s newest cocaine hub.
Amidst the decrepit structures and looming carriers, dozens of foreigners emerge under the cover of darkness to do brisk business and peddle drugs to the city’s young and affluent. Drugs and cash exchange hands after whispered negotiations. “We have complained to the local police on several occasions, but the action that they take is short-lived. As the frequency of patrolling wanes, dealers hit the streets again. There is a police chowkie just 100 metres away from the ground, and yet the patrolling teams are unable to give us respite from the menace,” said a local transporter, on condition of anonymity.
Locals claim that they are more concerned about members of the young generation who buy the drugs than the nuisance created in the area. According to them, the cocaine doing the rounds in the party circuit across south Mumbai -- from Colaba to Cuffe Parade and Marine Drive -- can be traced back to this inconspicuous corner of the city.
Several smaller factions operate within the cartel, with stiff competition between dealers. The peddlers almost always approach the customers singly, and each tries to outwit and outsell the other. Posing as customers out for their fix, MiD DAY took a trip to Carnac Bunder. As the car drove up, the dealers approached tentatively. Eager to make a sale, they were ready to bargain, and even shared their names and numbers. A single gram sells for anything between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000, depending on the purity of the substance.
Just give me Rs 2,000
As we reach the grounds near Ghadiyal Godi, at least three dealers surround us. Speaking in broken English, they try their best to woo us.
Dealer 1: It’s me, my friend
Reporter: But let them go. (Pointing towards the other dealers gathered at the place)
The dealers squabble among themselves to vie for the new customer
Dealer 1: Come front. Pointing towards one among them
Reporter: What's your name
Dealer 2: Kitah. You came here before and you had for asked me.
They fight among themselves again. Dealer 1 pushes others aside and makes conversation with us
Dealer 1: How many you want? Two or one [gram]?
Reporter: One gram…
Dealer 1: OK.
Reporter: Wait wait let them go first Dealer 1 fights it out and asks his companions to leave. We call the dealer to come forward so we can collect the drugs. We drive up and park at a distance, and Dealer 1 follows us and approaches again
Reporter: Hey how much for one gram?
Dealer 1: You want mouth or nose?
Reporter: Mouth. How much you tell me first?
Dealer 1: Just give me Rs 2,000 We ask him to move forward yet again, and drive away from the spot before he can catch up
It’s pure stuff
Reporter: How much for one gram?
Dealer: Rs 2,000
Reporter: Less? Mixing?
Is it pure?
Dealer: Yes, yes pure
Reporter: How pure?
The dealer nods his assurance
Reporter: What is your name?
Dealer: Bosco... Bosco. I promise you its very pure -- 85 per cent pure.
(Pauses for a while to gauge the situation around us)
Dealer: Snorting or mouth?
Reporter: Sniffing. Till what time you are here?
Dealer: Am here every time.
I have Columbia stock
Dealer: Hello bro. I have good thing for you.
Reporter: How much?
Dealer: 2,000.. pure coke I have. Columbia stock (Columbia is a hotbed for drug trafficking)
Dealer: Pure bro. I give you my number. You eat and come here.
Reporter: Snorting or mouth?
Dealer: I have the one for mouth I have the one for snorting
Reporter: What is your number? The dealer gives his number on a piece of paper
Reporter: What’s you name?
Dealer: My name is Yusuf
Reporter: Yusuf till what time you are here?
Dealer: I am here every time 12 o’ clock
Reporter: How much per gram you said?
Dealer: (Talks in Hindi) Ek gram. Badiya achcha wala bro
‘Arresting them is inviting nuisance’
Based on their past experiences, cops from Dongri police station are scared to lay their hands on these dealers. The foreigners, who are well built compared to the average Indian, are too strong to be overpowered easily. Catching them after a chase is out of the question. In August 2012, Vijay Mukne of Dongri police station sustained injuries in a chase.
Mukne, who is now Assistant Commissioner of Police, said, “I used to regularly follow their activities. They used to gather at the spot to consume drugs; selling was not on their agenda. In the month of August, the complaints against them increased. I raided the spot and while trying to chase them, I slipped and severely fractured my left leg.”
Till a few years ago, these peddlers would troop to the city in groups. They came on the pretext of conducting business, but sold drugs instead. Over time, their activities have been on the wane, thanks to police action. Some, however, continue to frequent the city. They accommodate themselves in cheap lodges in and around Dongri and Pydhonie. “We have been constantly checking their visas and passports. Last year we had taken action on at least 36 Africans with passport and visa issues. Of these, only three were sent back to their country. Putting them in lock-up is a nuisance, so we prefer to take their judicial custody and send them to jail. Once they serve their sentences they are sent back to their respective countries,” said an officer from Pydhonie police station.
Not my jurisdiction
When contacted, Senior Police Inspector Sandeep Dal of Dongri police station said, “The said area is not in my jurisdiction.” When the reporter said that officials from Dongri police station were seen patrolling the spot, he refused to comment.