Crime
However, officials say, most peddlers nabbed are mere cogs in the machine and that getting to the kingpins is not easy.
Image for representation

Since January 2018, the Bengaluru Police have seized a total of 591 kg of illegal drugs. Deputy Chief Minister, Dr G Parameshwara announced this on Wednesday after a meeting with the Bengaluru Police to review the law and order situation in the city.

Speaking to the media after the meet, Parameshwara said that Since January this year, 169 cases have been registered against 308 persons under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. Of these, 280 are Indian citizens while 28 of them are from foreign countries.

The police have seized a total of 591 kg of drugs, of which 588 kg was marijuana. The remaining included opium, heroin, hashish and cocaine.

“In 2017, there were 287 cases where the drug being sold was ganja (marijuana). This year, so far, 151 cases involved the illegal possession of ganja with intent to distribute,” Parameshwara said.

The Bengaluru Police and the Narcotics Control Bureau, has stepped up surveillance in bus stops and railway stations in the city. However, police say that as soon as a dealer is busted and arrested, a new dealer emerges.

“It is a very difficult to track them down, but we have managed to arrest some of the big ones in the recent years,” the police say.

However, officials with the Narcotics Control Bureau say that the number of drug peddlers in the city are much higher than what is estimated.

“These peddlers who get caught are needles in a haystack. Getting to the kingpin of operations is very difficult because of the convoluted network and in a few cases the lack thereof, for peddlers themselves don’t understand the supply chain,” an NCB official said.

Another major problem, police say, is that the issue of drug abuse has become a major concern in two-tier cities. “Earlier, the drugs would be transported to Bengaluru only. The most commonly abused drug is marijuana. The ganja would come from farms in Karnataka or from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Now, even in two-tier cities, ganja is being sold to college students,” the official added.

When it comes to synthetic drugs like cocaine, police say that Mathikere, Kodigehalli, Kammanahalli, Banaswadi and a few secluded areas in the city’s suburbs had become major hotspots for the illegal sale of synthetic drugs. “When one is busted, another one pops up. Mysuru, Mangaluru and also border areas of Kerala are where the drugs are sourced and brought to Bengaluru,” the source added.

The modus operandi

NCB officials say that drug peddlers mostly target student and that each peddler has a zone or territory where the drugs are sold.

“Generally small food stalls or shops near the colleges are where students gather. The people who run these shops know where to source ganja from. This is how networks are formed. Once the student gets the contact number of the dealer, he becomes a potential recruit. Once the student buys enough ganja from the peddler, he or she may also end up selling drugs for profit. It’s a chain. When one is busted, more people crop up but we have stepped up surveillance and the number of peddlers has gone down,” an NCB official said.

Sources say that the drugs are smuggled in through various innovative means. “They put it in fruit boxes, under LPG cylinders. Some swallow condom filled pills of synthetic drugs like cocaine or ketamine. Last year, capsules filled with cocaine were concealed in headphones. They sew it into clothes and fill the drugs inside toys. But the method is simple. They send a hundred consignments and 90% of them get delivered. The rest is written off as a risk in business. We had a case where hash oil was found in tea bags in 2017. The drug was being peddled to the Maldives,” police added.