New Delhi: The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has arrested a Delhi-based 30-year-old engineer for allegedly importing marijuana in the name of “life-saving drugs” from Las Vegas in the US, ThePrint has learnt.
With most countries sealing their borders to check the spread of Covid-19, the illegal drug trade too seems to have taken a hit, like all other industries.
In order to, however, resume the operations and keep their network alive, peddlers across the world are now devising new ways to import and export narcotics in the name of “life-saving drugs”, a senior officer told ThePrint.
According to a source in the Narcotics Control Bureau, the accused, L. Dhingra, was arrested last week when he went to collect the parcels from the office of the courier service, FedEx, following which, five parcels — four containing “high quality marijuana (220 grams each)” and the fifth containing hemp extracts tablets — were recovered from him.
This quality of marijuana costs Rs 1 lakh per kg.
According to the NCB source, the team received a tip-off that a few parcels will reach India from the US for a 30-year-old engineer, who lives in Inder Puri.
The police then contacted the FedEx office and asked them to keep a track of all parcels that come from the US.
“When five parcels landed here from Las Vegas in the name of life-saving drugs, we were informed. That was a give away,” the same source said.
“We asked the courier service staff to call up the person in whose name the parcels were received and ask him to come to the office to collect them,” the source said. “He was finally nabbed from the office of the courier service,” he added.
The operation was led by Zonal Director K.P.S. Malhotra.
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Five parcels in different names & addresses
When the police identified the five parcels, they were found to be in different names and addresses.
“To evade detection, Dhingra had ordered parcels on different names, addresses and phone numbers, but the consignor of all the parcels based in the USA was the same,” the source said.
“When he was searched, we found various (photos of) IDs (under whose name the parcels were registered) in his mobile,” the source added.
After further investigation, it was found that Dhingra was actually using the ID cards of his tenants, which he may have taken from them while renting out his properties to order these parcels.
“We have seized the ID cards that he was using,” the source said.
Russian connect and a plan to expand business
Investigation has revealed that Dhingra had a “Russian contact”, a middleman who facilitated delivery of drugs from the US to India.
“The Russian contact operates as the middleman between the Indian consignee and American consignor,” the source said. “Dhingra first placed the order with his Russian contact, who in turn contacted his source in the USA and facilitated the delivery,” the source added.
“In many parts of world, the cannabis and hemp products are legalised, so the illegal users in India have a tendency to import these products from various parts of world,” he said.
Dhingra also told the police that he was initially just a “drug consumer” but got into this business as he thought it was “lucrative”.
According to the source, Dhingra and his contact in Russia were also planning to “expand” their business, and start cultivation and processing of high-quality marijuana in Kasol, Himachal Pradesh.
“For this purpose, Dhingra had also visited Kasol and identified a suitable plot where they planned to start their plan. The deal was to be finalised after the lockdown lifts,” the source said.
Cocaine production most hit
While production and peddling of most plant and chemical-based drugs has been disrupted in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, cocaine production has been hit the most.
According to another NCB source, since the precursor chemical required for the production of cocaine is produced in China, which has now stopped amid the spread of coronavirus, the production and sale of cocaine has taken a back seat.
“Potassium permanganate, which is produced in China and is used for production of cocaine in Mexico, is not being produced now. Also the earlier stock is not reaching South America, which is why cocaine sale has virtually stopped. If at all, it is available in less quantity and has become very expensive,” the source said.
“Another reason is that the overall supply chain has been disrupted. The carriers are not able to travel by air. Whatever little is being transported is either via road or by sea,” the source said. Cocaine comes to India from South America via Africa.
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