KOCHI: During the Onam season, a special drive was conducted by the Excise Department to combat the surge in the circulation of illicit liquor and narcotics, which is typically observed during this period. This effort resulted in the detection of 94 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act alone.
Ernakulam deputy excise commissioner B Tennymon stated that the number of cases under the NDPS Act and Abkari Act significantly increased during the Onam season. In addition to regular drugs, the Excise teams also apprehended individuals in possession of highly intoxicating drug tablets.
“Considering the potential surge in drug and illicit liquor trafficking during Onam, we conducted 1,418 raids. We collaborated with other agencies such as the police, customs, railway police, and coastal police to restrict drug flow. Surveillance activities were intensified, leading to a higher rate of case detection. We also enhanced intelligence-gathering efforts. We seized drug tablets like Tramadol, Clonazepam, and Lorazepam from the district during the Onam season,” he explained.
According to data from the Excise Department, in August alone, 129 Abkari cases were registered in the district, and 124 individuals were arrested. During the Onam season, seizures under the Abkari Act included 13.3 litres of Arrack, 349.2 litres of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), 16.2 litres of beer, 176.2 litres of Toddy, 1975 litres of wash, and 7.5 litres of liquor from other states.
Regarding narcotics cases, Ernakulam district saw 94 cases detected and 104 persons arrested in August. Excise squads seized 43.6 kilograms of ganja, four ganja plants, 81.9 grams of heroin, 2.1 grams of brown sugar, one gram of hashish, 2.8 grams of hashish oil, 149.5 grams of MDMA, and 14.6 grams of Methamphetamine. Drug tablets and ampules recovered included 2.2 grams of Lorazepam tablets, 0.5 grams of Buprenorphine tablets, 2.8 grams of Tramadol tablets, and 2.5 grams of Clonazepam tablets.
“Tablets like Lorazepam, Tramadol, and Clonazepam are prescribed by doctors for sleep-related issues and anxiety disorders. However, it has come to our attention that drug abusers are using these tablets recreationally. These are prescription medicines that are being illegally sold to drug addicts. We are inspecting medical shops that sell these classified drugs without proper prescriptions,” an Excise official said.
Tennymon emphasised the vital role of shadow units in detecting cases. “Drug peddlers also maintain a robust network to monitor our every move. They keep tabs on each vehicle leaving our offices to warn peddlers. Consequently, we have bolstered our shadow units, which operate undercover and provide us with information about drug peddlers,” he stated.
Following these enforcement activities, the number of cases involving the seizure of drugs from parcels arriving at the international Post Office in Kochi has decreased. “After numerous arrests following the recovery of drugs sent via parcels from abroad arriving at the International post office in Kochi, it appears that traffickers have abandoned this method for now. We rarely detect cases involving parcels. Nevertheless, checks continue to prevent traffickers from resuming drug smuggling through parcels,” added Tennymon.
Excise cases and seizures during the Onam season in Ernakulam district