Many illegal syndicates are likely to be involved in peddling counterfeit Viagra in Mumbai and Delhi because there is a huge demand for aphrodisiacs, which many people mistake the male anti-impotency drug to be, police officers in the two cities said.
Ten days ago, the Mumbai Police arrested three men involved in one such syndicate, although they were low-rung distributors. Officers picked up Abdul Khan, 23, and Shahbaz Mustafa Khan, 43, when they delivered fake pills to a decoy customer. Usman Gani Abdul Kadar, who had supplied the pills to the two, was later held.
The police said they were trying to trace the syndicate’s lynchpin, the importer. “We are interrogating the three arrested men to get more information,” said Deven Bharati, deputy commissioner of police (crime). “We have been able to detect one module, but given the demand for the drug, there could be many supply chains.”
In Delhi, police officers said they had not recieved any complaint yet. But they did not rule out the possiblity of such syndicates working in the city. Delhi is a big market, said an officer who did not want to be named.
The syndicates have a clearly defined structure, as described by the police (see graphic). Once the counterfeit consignment lands in India, the importer claims it and quickly distributes its contents to sub-dealers like Usman Gani Abdul Kadar.
Sub-dealers then empty the original cardboard boxes and re-pack the pills in small plastic bottles — 30 to one — and slap fake Pfizer labels on them. This is what the police say Kadar was doing at his residence in south Mumbai.
Sub-dealers, in turn, supply the pills to field agents such as Abdul Khan and Shahbaz Mustafa Khan, who sell it to the actual consumers, mostly at roadside shops.
(With inputs from Delhi)