Busting parties where drugs are available such as the Juhu sundown party is not the solution to end the city’s thriving cocaine trade. Such drugs should not be allowed to enter the country. But with no body scanners at any of our international airports, smugglers find it easy to sneak in the drug, say officials in the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and customs department.
NCB officials say that cocaine is largely smuggled through body couriers who either swallow cocaine capsules or conceal them in the rectum. Body couriers usually fly into the city from African countries, Malaysia or Thailand.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai and other airports in the country do not have a single body scanner, which give an X-Ray image of the body and reveal concealed items. Airports currently only have baggage scanners. Many countries abroad such as the US and UK have body scanners.
“We need at least six body scanners at the Mumbai airport,” said a senior customs official requesting anonymity. Sources said that the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) is contemplating installing body scanners at international airports in the country.
“We intercept suspects only based on specific intelligence,” added the official. Once apprehended, the process to detect the drug is cumbersome. The suspect is taken to a government hospital after seeking permission from a metropolitan court. At the hospital, the suspect has to undergo an X-Ray to detect any foreign object containing cocaine or any other drug.
NCB officials said that smugglers can conceal more than 500 grams of cocaine inside the body amounting to about 50 capsules with 10 to 12gms in each capsule.
Another method to smuggle cocaine is through courier concealed with other imported materials. “This mode is used to smuggle the drug in big quantities, but this method is rarely used,” said an NCB official. PM Saleem, commissioner of customs, airport, Mumbai, said that drugs are detected through intelligence and also with the help of sniffer dogs. He added that the department does passenger profiling to help them keep a watch on suspects.