Trucks carrying essential goods during lockdown being used to traffick drugs: NCB

New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) The free inter-state movement of trucks and other essential goods carrying vehicles during the lockdown period is being misused by criminals to traffick drugs in the country, the NCB said on Friday after it busted some rackets.

The federal agency, over the last two weeks, seized 60 kg of opium, a total of 61,638 psychotropic tablets, 840 bottles of codeine based cough syrup and 574 kgs of 'ganja' (cannabis) after conducting operations across the country.

'It is worrying to note that drug traffickers are using the free inter-state movement of essential commodity vehicles during the lockdown period to aid the trafficking efforts,' Narcotics Control Bureau's Deputy Director (operations) K P S Malhotra said.

The agency has increased vigil across all state borders in view of these new developments, he added.

The country is in the third phase of the lockdown, that began on March 25, to cut the chain of coronavirus infection.

The sleuths of the anti-narcotics agency intercepted a Maharashtra registered truck on the intervening night of May 4-5 in Kodapura area of Surat (Gujarat) and recovered 574 kgs of cannabis that was allegedly concealed under a load of potatoes.

'The consignment had its origin in Odisha and was sourced to Surat. The trafficking network is spread across the states of Gujarat, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra,' Malhotra said.

In a similar seizure, an NCB team seized 60 kgs of opium from a Haryana registered truck from the Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh on April 28.

The narcotics was recovered from 'under the driver's seat,' the officer said.

Initial investigation reveals that the opium was sourced from near Chouparan in Jharkhand and was destined to Haryana, another senior official of the agency said.

B Singh, the driver and the owner of the truck, has been arrested.   It is uncommon for opium to be sourced from Jharkhand and all efforts are being made to trace the source of the seized drug, he added.   In an another case, the agency seized  61,368 psychotropic tablets and 840 bottles of codeine based cough syrup from the Patan district of Gujarat on April 26.

A person, J Kumar Patel, was arrested by the agency under the provision of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS).

These drugs cannot be sold by any medical store without a valid medical prescription from a registered medical practitioner, Malhotra said.

Such drugs, he added, usually reach the illegal market by way of diversion from illicit drug manufacturers, wholesalers or retail chemists. PTI NES RHL