BALASORE: Balasore seems to be emerging as a hub of narcotics smuggling, if one goes by huge haul of drugs last week.
Drugs worth around Rs 52.5 lakh were seized and three persons arrested in the coastal town between June 25 and 28, while 23 persons were arrested in the last three years. On June 25 and 27, Excise sleuths arrested two persons and seized drugs worth Rs 2.5 lakh. On June 28, Central Excise Intelligence Bureau officials seized 500 gms of the contraband worth Rs 50 lakh in the international market. Seven mobile phones and Rs 9,000 were also seized.
As per police records, while drugs worth Rs one crore were seized and eight persons arrested in 2014, six persons were arrested and 650 gms of narcotic substance was seized from their possession in 2013. In 2012, nearly 200 gms of brown sugar were seized and nine persons nabbed.
An excise official, Ajay Kumar Behera, said at least 18 cases of drug trafficking have been registered by the Excise Department in the last three years in a small town like Balasore. “The illegal trade is spreading its wings even as we continue to raid suspected areas frequently,” he said.
Sources said absence of an institutionalised intelligence framework to tackle the well coordinated narcotics trafficking has been encouraging the racketeers. The recent seizure is only tip of the iceberg as drug peddling has increased alarmingly with more youngsters and adolescents getting addicted to the menace.
“Drugs are available at each square of the town. In fact, brown sugar and ganja can be purchased from some shops that sell grocery and other edibles,” said Dilip Kumar Parida, a social activist.
The drugs are sold in small pouches at prices ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 200 at roadside shops in Golapokhari, Motiganj, Old Balasore, Sunhat, Nayabazar, Station Square, Azimabad, Telenga Sahi, Adar Bazar, Balia, Sovarampur, Balighat and Barabati.
Intelligence sources said places like Balasore, Chhatia in Jajpur and Cuttack have emerged as the main distribution points for drugs that are finding their way into the State mostly from Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. A police official said most of the drugs are smuggled into Balasore from Kolkata and a few men are hired for the purpose who work for well-organised rackets.