Mumbai: Drugs menace in the city refuses to die down with many youngsters falling prey to addiction. A recent data published by the Mumbai Police revealed that last year 1,246 kilograms of drugs worth close to Rs 70 crore were seized in over 12,418 cases of peddling and consumption. The highest number of seizure made was of cocaine worth Rs 59.03 crore of 17 grams. In a crackdown on the drug menace, Mumbai police and the anti-narcotics cell (ANC) of Mumbai crime branch have beefed up vigilance to curb buying, selling and consumption of these banned drugs.
The crackdown on city’s drug peddlers has intensified last year compared to the previous years figures. Data reveals that while only 395 people, mostly peddlers, were arrested in 2018, the number more than doubled last year with over 861 arrests. Police said the number of arrests are directly proportionate to the cases registered with a two-fold spurt. In 2018, only 291 cases of Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) were lodged, while a whopping 734 cases were registered in 2019.
Mumbai Police and ANC of Mumbai Police crime branch had intercepted many drug peddlers acting on tip-offs and seized drugs worth crores of rupees. In 2018, seizures were made of Rs 15.03 crore, while that recorded last year sky rocketed to Rs 69.20 crore. Shivdeep Lande, deputy commissioner of police, ANC said, “Narcotics is a lucrative business and the peddlers learn of the loopholes in their operations, thus changing the modus operandi. It has been observed that peddlers carry only a minimal amount, 5-10g, at a time. Hence, even if they are caught, they can either bribe their way out or get a case of consumption – which is like a slap on the wrist.”
Recently, peddlers have started to target children as mules to evade arrest. During checks and probe, it was revealed that peddlers usually blend in with the college crowd or pick spots near hotels, pubs or any pan stall, said an officer who did not wish to be named. “After getting a customer, they hand over the small packets and choose a location for delivery. Many times, one motorist approaches the buyer and collects the money, after which another motorist delivers the stuff,” he added.
Drug peddling and consumption is rife in the western suburbs of Mumbai. In 2019, Manoj Kumar Sharma, additional commissioner of police (West Region) had initiated a massive manhunt after many complaints of drug peddlers were reported at police stations. Accordingly, police had laid several traps during the year to flush out drug peddlers and arrested over 125 people. “Police have registered 107 first information reports (FIR) and seized drugs worth more than Rs 4 crore, including mephedrone (MD), cocaine, charas, ganja (cannabis). Drug suppliers often used women and in some cases even children were used as carriers,” said additional CP Sharma.
The biggest contributor to the drug menace in Mumbai has been cocaine, heroin and mephedrone also known as MD. Most arrests were made for possession and peddling of ganja (cannabis), with a three-fold rise from 146 cases lodged and 194 arrests in 2018, while those recorded last year were 460 and 520 respectively.
Last year in February, police had arrested a four-member gang including a Brazilian woman in connection with an international drug racket and seized Cocaine worth Rs 39 crores from them.
The gang used an innovative way to export drugs to South Africa and concealed drugs in rings of curtains made for home and sent them through a courier company to South Africa, particularly, Johannesburg, a police officer said.