THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Excise department has flagged an alarming rise in drug trafficking cases involving youngsters. Of the 3,791 persons held for drug trafficking last year, 514 were below the age of 21. This year 518 persons in the age group have been held so far, says the Excise Commissioner’s report to state government.
The consumption and sales of drugs in the state are on the rise, says the report by A Anandakrishnan, Excise Commissioner. The actual sales volume would be manifold than the quantity of drugs seized by enforcement officers. The report calls for sweeping reforms, including more powers to Excise officers and awareness programmes.
Lack of sufficient powers is hampering the speed of investigation in narcotics cases booked by the Excise. Excise officers have to depend on the police for sourcing phone call lists of the accused or suspects. If the Excise officers, above the rank of inspector, can directly source the information, the investigation can be expedited.
The report has recommended raising the penalty for possession and sales of banned tobacco products. The present Rs 200 fine for the sale of contraband does not help in checking the menace. The rules should be amended for increasing the fine amount and intercept the vehicle used for the transportation. The Excise Minister’s office said it there would be consultations based on the report. A final decision will be taken by the chief minister, said an officer.