Bengaluru cops seize e-cigarettes worth Rs 3 crore in 5 months

A majority of shops targeted in the crackdown had overstocked on e-cigarette-related products, often selling them at small shops and eateries frequented by school and college students.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

BENGALURU: Despite a statewide ban on e-cigarettes and vaping products, Bengaluru police data reveals that in the past five months, from February 10 to June 24, around 5,850 e-cigarettes worth Rs 3 crore have been seized for drug disposal. It has also been found that in some cases, buyers were threatened by peddlers with their transaction history to extort more money.

Official sources said that following raids and closure of various shops retailing such products, consumers have increasingly turned to Telegram groups, which have become popular as means to access vapes and e-cigarettes.

Sources revealed that a majority of shops targeted in the crackdown had overstocked on e-cigarette-related products, often selling them at small shops and eateries frequented by school and college students. “These products were sold in discreet packaging and were available at nearly half of the shops close to city colleges,” an official revealed.

The police have also connected some of the purchases to cybercrime, noting that in certain cases, buyers were threatened with their transaction history to extort additional money.

Mentioning about one such case, the official mentioned that a youth was extorted to the tune of Rs 76,000. The incident came to light when the victim, afraid to tell his parents, fabricated a story that he lost the money to a Telegram group after clicking a link, following which a case was registered at the Bengaluru Rural CEN police station.

The peddler or fraudster was not traced, however, during the investigation, it came to light that the group was engaged in dealing drugs. “When we asked the youth how he made the purchases, he shared that he would often send the money to multiple bank accounts and the e-cigarette parcel would arrive in the next two days,” the official added.

Through the delivery period, police sources mentioned that they attempted to analyse the location and other details of the accused. However, despite using multiple devices to solve the case, the location traced back only to Perlis, the smallest state in Malaysia, the official said.

From February to June, the police have confiscated drugs worth over Rs 41.73 crore for disposal.

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