The growing role of women drug peddlers is a cause of concern for the city police. Drug operators earlier used women as carriers as they were less likely to arouse suspicion, but now women are taking to it to earn quick money.
Figures available with the Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC) of the Mumbai Police reveal 52 of the 69 women arrested in the last three years for carrying contraband were also involved in smuggling drugs.
Sunil Paraskar, deputy commissioner of police (ANC), said: “A majority of women drug traffickers were arrested for carrying heroin, followed by cocaine.” Paraskar attributed this trend to rising demand for heroin and its easy portability. These drugs are available in small sachets, which are easy to carry and sell.
Other drugs sold by women are cannabis, hashish and cocaine. The cell has seized drugs worth Rs92.75 lakh, weighing over 1,553 kg in the last three years; 92 cases have been registered against women drug peddlers in three years, from 2008 to 2010. The data reveals that seven women were arrested in the last three years for smuggling cocaine.
Women raise less suspicion, which makes them a safe bet. Even though they are more active than men, they often go unnoticed and are seldom booked for drug trafficking, said ANC officials. This easy run with the police adds to their confidence and motivates them to take on bigger and riskier assignments, with money being a major incentive.
Apprehending women drug peddlers is also difficult because the police needs precise and accurate information. “It is easier for women traffickers to hide drugs on them. Any wrong move can only worsen the situation. Women create a ruckus when apprehended, which attracts undue attention and situation often gets embarrassing,” said a police officer from the ANC.
Paucity of women police personnel adds to ANC’s problems. “According to the law, only a women cop can frisk a women suspect. There are not many women officers in our team,” said Paraskar. Another police officer said even though the number of women police officers has seen a considerable rise, the number of women arrested for drug trafficking has remained the same. “Most women get into the business either to make living or earn a few extra bucks,” said Paraskar.