Mumbai's youngsters could be snorting boric powder with MD
Probe reveals African peddlers have moved away from cocaine and are concocting MD in their suburban flats
Even as cops crack down on cocaine, African drug peddlers have figured out yet another way to outsmart the police using simple chemistry, a la Breaking Bad. They are now brewing chemical drugs — mephedrone (MD) — in their apartments at Navi Mumbai and Mira Road.
This is the first time African peddlers in the city have ventured out of the cocaine business and into synthetic drugs like MD. Anti-narcotic cell (ANC) officers first caught wind of this shift in July-end, when they arrested nine African origin peddlers at the Eastern Freeway. The peddlers had 104 g of cocaine, but the police were more concerned by the smaller package of 9 g of MD they found.
The African-origin peddlers arrested in July said they were brewing adulterated MD, which was confirmed by Bandra dealer Imtiyaz Shaikh
The drug seemed similar to MD, but upon testing it in the state forensic laboratory, they found it had a different chemical composition. During questioning, the peddlers admitted that they were manufacturing MD right in their homes, with the help of makeshift labs that could be easily dismantled in case of a raid. These drug labs — eerily similar to the mobile meth lab in the popular TV show Breaking Bad — are located in apartments across Mira Road and Navi Mumbai.
The ANC got a second confirmation on August 10, when the Worli unit arrested Indian dealer Imtiyaz Shaikh, 40, from Bandra with 61 grams of MD. Shaikh told the officers that he had purchased MD from African peddlers on the railway tracks between Masjid and Sandhrust Road stations, and the drug was manufactured locally in their flats.
Cheaper and stealthier
The African dealers told the police that they usually adulterate the drug to increase the quantity and their profits. They use enough MD to ensure their customers get a kick, but by adding other ingredients, they also manage to change the composition of the drug in such a way that it is no longer under the purview of the NDPS Act. The drugs seized in the July arrest also managed to beat the NDPS in the same manner.
With the increased quantity, they can also sell the drug cheaper to customers, which further increases demand. While pure MD can cost as much as Rs 2,000 per gram, the adulterated drug costs just Rs 800 for the same amount.
Investigators warned that the adulterated drug might be cheaper, but it was far more dangerous than pure MD as well. Officers said the African-origin dealers usually get MD from Mumbra or Gujarat and they mix it white powders such as crushed painkillers, boric powder, baking powder and even monosodium glutamate (MSG).
The peddlers have no fixed formula for mixing MD, and often use whatever is on hand. This makes the end product unpredictable and risky, as there is no way of telling how the chemical mixture will react.
How they beat the NDPS Act
Not all addictive substances are covered by the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. It wasn't until February 2015 that Mephedrone or MD was added to the law, after its use became rampant.
By changing its chemical composition, the peddlers ensure that the drug is not recognised under the NDPS Act. It also gets tougher to detect it with on-the-spot drug testing kits.
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