Airports set to net drug traffickers | india | Hindustan Times
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Airports set to net drug traffickers

india Updated: Jun 26, 2006 12:01 IST

Scanners are to be installed at all international airports in India to catch drug traffickers in the wake of increased smuggling of narcotic drugs in the country.

"These gadgets would be able to detect the drugs being smuggled by traffickers," said a senior official of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

According to the official, traffickers wrap up cocaine and other drugs and swallow these so that they can pass through security checks without being detected.

"Now, with the introduction of scanners, we would be able to crack down on this method of smuggling narcotics," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Mumbai has become one of the biggest centres of drug trafficking since it is well connected by air and sea," he added.

"Many tourists who come to Goa demand drugs. This demand has made Mumbai the most favoured destination for traffickers," the official pointed out.

According to the latest figures, 172 foreign nationals, including 41 Nigerians and 42 Myanmarese, were nabbed last year.

"Though more people have been arrested from Myanmar, it is the drug cartels in Nigeria that are running the drug trade in this part of the world," said the NCB official.

He said that a total 59 people from Africa have been arrested in 2005. "This is the highest number of people arrested from a single continent.

"Apart from Nigeria, we have arrested nationals from Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia," he added.

With the increasing demand for drugs in Asia, especially Southeast Asia, the amount of seizures has also increased considerably.

This year alone, India's law enforcing agencies have recovered 230 kg heroin and 203 kg of cocaine.

Police have also recovered 20,000 drug tablets, including the highly potent Ecstasy.

"It is difficult to judge how many illegal consignments have missed our detection," said the official, noting that the recoveries were nothing but the tip of the iceberg.

"We only manage to trace one out of the ten consignments that come into the country," he said. "It is difficult to quantify the spread of narcotic drugs in the country."

Even so, "this year has been the most exciting, as we have recovered over 200 kg of cocaine. In comparison, in the past four years, only 12 kg of cocaine was seized in India," said an official.

"Cocaine is not produced in India, it is mostly smuggled into the country for consumption and to be exported to Europe and Latin America after further processing," he added.

The growing demand for narcotic substances in South Asia can be gauged from the fact that 22 Sri Lankans and 15 Nepalese have also been arrested, apart from the 42 Myanmarese.

Officials said the easy accessibility of New Delhi and Mumbai had made them a major transit point for trafficking drugs to most parts of Asia.

"Cartels are focussing on New Delhi as it is the best connected city in South Asia and also a growing market in itself. Furthermore, these cartels are trying to establish linkages in the other metros of the country," he said.

Officials added that "goods" from New Delhi could easily be sent to or received in any part of Asia, especially Southeast Asia.

"Some of the traffickers have revealed during interrogation that they sell at least 100 grams of cocaine every month," the official said.

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