KOCHI: The illegal sale and procurement of restricted drugs in the city has come to light again with the excise arresting two youths who are key members of a gang named Acid Dropper Task Team. The officials recovered 110 nitrozepam tablets weighing about 62 grams from their possession. Active on social media, the gang was involved in supplying drug tablets to youngsters in the Kakkanad area, the excise said.
Freddy V F, 28, of Kunnathunadu, and Akhil Mohanan, 24, of Thuppumpadi, Kanayannur, were arrested on Sunday in a joint operation carried out by officers from the State Excise Enforcement Squad (SEES), Excise Intelligence and the Mamala Excise Range. The sleuths also seized the two-wheeler used by the accused to supply drugs.
According to the officers, the gang supplied drug tablets extensively through social media groups. The social media accounts of the accused were under surveillance after receiving a tip-off from the SEES about the drug trade in Kakkanad. The arrested were involved in the drug trade for a long time. The two have previously been accused in several criminal cases on charges of house trespass, assault, possession of lethal weapons, and drug smuggling. This is the first occasion they were nabbed together. They have been remanded in judicial custody.
The duo landed in the excise net while awaiting customers at Puthencruz on their two-wheeler. The accused were intoxicated but the officials managed to overpower them. “They sold these tablets, used to treat anxiety and fear, for Rs 100 each when it is actually priced just Rs 4,” said Enforcement Assistant Commissioner T N Sudheer.
A preliminary investigation has revealed that the pills were transported from Salem. “We have received clear indications about the other members of the gang and there will be more arrests. An investigation is under way to trace the source of the drug supply. The department will initiate stringent action against these kind of gang,” the officer said.
Nitrozepam, a Schedule H drug, can be sold only according to a prescription from a registered medical practitioner. However, the purchase of these drugs from medical stores using fake prescriptions is rampant in the district. When the excise stepped up vigil against illegal sales, the menace had declined to a great extent.
The possession of these tablets of more than 20g is a serious crime and it would invite a punishment of 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 1 lakh. According to officials, the Nitrozepam tablet is a hypnotic and sedative drug that is used only to treat severe sleep disorders. It increases the risk of habit-forming tendencies if taken for a long duration or at larger doses and also causes severe dizziness, severe unsteadiness, and severe uncontrolled body movements.
Supply via social media
According to the officers, the gang supplied drug tablets extensively through social media groups. The social media accounts of the suspects were under surveillance after receiving a tip-off from the SEES about the drug trade in Kakkanad