Smugglers cheat customers with fake opium for easy money in Andhra Pradesh

They prepare hash oil and add a few ingredients to make the contraband look like opium and are shifting to various areas in AP and neighbouring states.

VISAKHAPATNAM: It appears grass is greener for the ganja smugglers, literally. The smugglers, who are resorting to various tactics to run the illicit trade in Vizag Agency by hoodwinking police, are now preparing fake opium for it is fetching a whopping `1 lakh per kg in the market.
According to sources, the smugglers are preparing hash oil and adding a few ingredients to it to make the contraband look like opium and are shifting to various areas in Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring states too.

“It is all for the lure of money. Smugglers have now started duping their consumers by selling ‘fake opium’ on high prices,” say officials of the enforcement agencies. The arrest of three ganja smugglers near Kothapalle of G Madugula mandal in Visakhapatnam agency on August 22 have brought to light the tricks of the smugglers to spin quick bucks. The excise officials recovered 19.75 kg of black coloured sedative during the incident. The smugglers who were caught red-handed while shifting the contraband also confessed before the cops that it was opium.

However, the suspicious cops sent it to laboratory for testing. Getting the reports, they again interrogated the accused who revealed that the sedative was hash oil prepared from dry ganja and addition of a few ingredients and further heating had imparted the sedative the opium-like colour.  

“Smugglers prepare hash oil boiling the dry ganja at certain temperatures and add several ingredients to it. After extracting the pure hash oil, it is again boiled for some more time to make it more sticky. The smugglers are believed to be adding poppy straw to get the desired black colour and make the sedative look like opium. Though instances of poppy straw cultivation in Visakhapatnam agency is yet to come to our notice, they are being sold in weekly shandies. The smugglers prepare the sedative and sell it as opium,” says ACP (Prohibition and Excise-Enforcement Wing) SVVN Babji Rao.

It is the price factor that makes the smugglers to take this route. One kg of ganja is being sold in the range between `3,000 and `4,000 in other states and for hash oil, it is around `60,000 per kg. But when it comes to opium, a kg of it can fetch a minimum of `1 lakh,  says Babji Rao.

However, the cops are yet to zero in on the main kingpins of the trade even after arresting two more persons who were said to be the point men for shifting the contraband from one area to the other.
Sources say that the opium trade is suspected to be rampant in four to five places in Vizag Agency and apparently, smugglers from Kerala have trained the local residents to prepare the hash oil, given the good availability of quality ganja in the Agency.

Ganja farming makes inroads to Srikaulam too

Visakhapatnam: Even as the illicit ganja trade continue unabated in Vizag Agency, the excise officials are now suspecting that cultivation of the contraband has started in the tribal belts of Srikakulam district. With several smuggling activities being reported in the recent past, officials opine that tribal farmers of Pathapatnam and Parvathipuram are cultivating ganja. Ganja is being cultivated in 151 tribal hamlets in the limits of eight mandals in the state, of which six are in Vizag Agency while the rest are in East Godavari district, say officials.

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