Is Mumbai turning into a drug destination?

Long ago, Mumbai was considered a transit point for international drug smugglers, but now it has turned into a delivery point, according to enforcement agencies. With the surge in drug abusers in the city, officials are now a worried lot, as they believe that demand for banned substances in the city, especially among the youth, is attracting the drug mafia to ply their illegal trade here.

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Since April, four huge drug hauls have been made at the city’s international airport, leading to the seizure of 18 kg of amphetamine, 7.3 kg of cocaine, one kg of heroin and ketamine and other banned substances. The fourth haul was made yesterday morning, when Customs officials arrested a Nigerian national, Liaus Lara Okin, after she disembarked at Mumbai airport. Okin was found to be carrying 1.3 kg of cocaine, two kg of ketamine and 100 grams of amphetamine collectively valued at approximately Rs 1.65 crore. The drugs were found in the false bottom of a wooden box concealed underdry fish and beef.

The Air Intelligence Unit of Mumbai Airport Customs intercepted Okin after she arrived on an Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 610. As she was clearing the green channel, Deputy Commissioner of AIU Sameer Wankhede intercepted her with the consignment, making it the fourth biggest haul. Sources within the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) further revealed that the international drug mafia that was earlier operating from Kenya is now operating from Ethiopia.

Customs sources further added that due to the seized drugs being in high demand among the youth, Mumbai is turning into a delivery point. “We have found smugglers who were earlier using Mumbai as a transit point are now confessing that due to the high demand, delivery is made in the city itself,” said a top source in the Customs.

Endorsing this view, top sources in NCB stated that the demand for drugs among the city’s youth has risen, which is a big concern. “Drugs have become a party symbol in the city. Through many cases it has been revealed that demand for drugs, especially for teenagers’ parties, is on the higher side. Banning the consumption of drugs in such parties is a state subject, Mumbai police has an integrated narcotics department and it is doing well. But, looking at the rise in drugs landing in the city, the department will have to be more vigilant,” said a NCB source.

Commissioner, Mumbai Airport Customs, P M Saleem said that drugs being brought into Mumbai was a very worrying trend. “It becomes a very serious social concern. Drugs coming in reflect that demand for drugs has reached high proportions,” Saleem said.¬†Okin will be produced in court today. ¬†

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