Courier, Postal Services Used for Drug Trafficking
KOZHIKODE: On December 3, 2014, officials of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Chennai, arrested a Nigerian national while attempting to smuggle 2kg of pseudo ephedrine and 100 grams of heroin, concealed in three cartons, to South Africa and Guinea as parcels through the India post.
Earlier, in July 2014, officers of the Customs, New Delhi, caught 25 parcels containing 2.640 kg of heroin, 2.8 kg of Opium, 1.125 kg of hashish, 4.4 kg of ganja, 1.14 kg of ketamine and a towel of size 27.51 square inches impregnated with ketamine. The contraband was supposed to be sent to South Africa, Canada, Spain, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Congo, Russia, Australia, Malaysia and Austria.
These are not one-off cases. According to top officials of NCB, at least one major seizure of illegal drugs, meant to be trafficked to foreign destinations through couriers or speed post, are reported every month in the country.
The drugs are often concealed in low value goods such hardbound books, files, photo frames, talcum powder boxes, statues, sarees, ladies’ hand bags, shoes and even inside the thigh pad used by cricketers. There were instances in which drugs were smuggled inside water purifiers, machinery and starched or soaked in garments.
The major reason is, according to R N Srivastava, Additional Director General of NACEN, Faridabad, there is no domestic regulations for operating courier services and any one can set up a courier company.
“The anonymity of the sender, consignment rip off at destinations before Customs clearance, involvement of courier companies and collusion of employees and easy access of courier company employees to Customs control areas make trafficking through couriers a less riskier option,” the officer said, while delivering a lecture on global, national and regional drug trafficking trends recently in Kozhikode.
The vibrant Indian pharmaceutical industry, having a growth rate of 12 to 14 per cent with annual exports and domestic market turnover of `42,000 crore and `58,000 crore respectively, makes India a hub for drug trafficking. “The consumption of expensive narcotic drugs are minimal in the country. However, there is massive production of such banned drugs for the purpose of trafficking to foreign countries under the pretext of producing industrial chemicals.
More than ninety percent of the persons arrested in this regard are natives of Africa, particularly Nigeria,” an official with NCB said.
Though smuggling of banned drugs to foreign destinations using couriers and post from India is rampant, NCB officials opine that the modus operandi is hardly seen in distributing drugs within the country.
However, according to top officials, without specific information the seizure of illegal drugs sent through couriers or postal services is impossible. “What we need is to develop an intelligencenetwork to curb these practices,” the official said.