news Wednesday, June 24, 2015 - 05:30
Edwin Enrique who was arrested in Chennai by the NCB On Monday, sleuths of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) apprehended Columbian national Edwin Enrique at the Chennai airport as he tried to enter India with 2.35 kgs of purest form of cocaine. NCB officials estimate the cocaine is worth about Rs 11 crore in the international market. While it is a matter of concern that Enrique is a former Columbian military soldier with possible direct links to the dangerous drug-cartels based in Bogota in Columbia, there is another worrying trend – cocaine cartels are creating longer chains of distribution and have started using multiple points of entry to India. Over the years, international connectivity of cities like Hyderabad, Chennai and Kochi has improved with multiple direct flights from countries in the middle-east and south-east Asia landing in these cities every day. To avoid the stringent checking and well-networked intelligence agencies in bigger metros like Delhi and Mumbai, cocaine couriers are now diverted to the smaller cities. The cocaine is then domestically transported to the major centres of consumption like Mumbai and Goa. However, consumption of cocaine in other metros is also increasing. While Goa, Mumbai and Delhi top the charts on the consumption of cocaine, the growth is said to be considerable in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai too. “We believe that the cocaine which was confiscated from Enrique was not meant for consumption in Chennai. Chennai was a point of transit for the consignment to be sent to other cities,” says Prem Anand Sinha, Zonal Director at NCB Chennai, who is leading the charge on the crackdown against the cocaine couriers. Enrique was carrying more than 200 marker pens filled with about 10 gms of cocaine each, and Chennai is not known to have the capacity for such consumption. The NCB is also investigating other leads based on this arrest. Another trend the NCB has been noticing over the years is that unlike other businesses where the usual strategy is to reduce middlemen and the size of the supply chain, the cartels have been diverting their consignments in smaller quantities through multiple people through multiple points of entry, all of which will eventually reach one centre from where the drugs are distributed. More people are being hired to be used as mules for the drugs. Cocaine is sourced from South America, with Columbia, Peru and Bolivia being the major producers of the drug. The distribution in India, sources in the NCB say, is done mainly by nationals of west-African countries. Over the years, Nigerians have gained notoriety for the distribution of cocaine in India, with Delhi being a major centre of their operation. Officials of the NCB in Chennai say that with three other seizures in Chennai over the past few months, the cartels have received a major blow to their operations.