From hiding drugs inside food packets to book covers to linings of purses, cartels have many ingenious methods of concealing their cargo, anti-drug agencies said.
Sometimes, the powder is sprinkled on clothes. Water filters, toys, pool table sets, hanger rings bangles, vehicle parts, can all be objects to hide drugs inside.
Officers said there is no machine with the police or other agency to detect narcotics, and this flaw is exploited by the drug mafia to smuggle the contraband out of the country. The drug is usually mixed with some other substance, to better camouflage it.
An ANC officer said food packets, such as those of idli mix and rava, are ideal to smuggle drugs in – a fine cut is made in the packet and the original substance thrown out, and drug filled in. The packet is then resealed. Postal authorities only check the weight of the package, and do not realise anything is amiss.
Food packets are often sent to Indians settled abroad by their families.
More than a dozen groups with connection to international drug cartels are currently active in the city, said officers. An official of the anti-narcotics cell (ANC), who did not want to be named, said these gangs befriend Class 4 employees of different foreign post office branches, who are usually into handling ‘stamping and weighing’ of parcels that are sent overseas.
“Usually, if a courier costs Rs2,500, these gangs pay Rs10,000 to the person for easy clearance. They are also treated to lavish parties in posh hotels,” the officer said, adding all this is not just for the smooth sending of the consignment, but also to ensure no tip-offs are given to the anti-narcotics agencies.
According to an ANC official, there have been cases in which posts offices at GPO-Fort, Santacruz and near the Manora MLA hostel have been used to send in drugs.
ANC officials said there are units in Varodara, Ambernath, Nashik, Ulhasnagar, which manufacture drugs and this is then sent mostly to African countries.