After finding themselves in hot pursuit of 25 Nigerian cocaine peddlers in south Mumbai’s Wadibunder in the early hours of April 29, Mumbai crime branch officers are likely to revive the plan to set up an apparatus to blacklist habitual narcotics offenders on the basis of their biometric records.
The crime branch will write to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), asking them to speed up the process, so that drug peddlers with past cases are identified and stopped from entering the country. The proposal was first drafted and sent to the MEA by the anti-narcotics cell (ANC) and the special branch (SB II) of the Mumbai police in 2012.
The officers said the main accused in the case, 37-year-old Infunanya Ginika Minke, who allegedly headed the cartel, was behind bars in a similar case and was released only in November 2015. Following his release, Minke brought his gang together again and started peddling cocaine, officers said. He was apprehended along with his accomplice, Ique Chikwneni Emaniyal, 24.
Investigators said on most occasions, drug peddlers from Nigeria destroy their passports after arriving in India, which makes their case disputed because their country refuses to accept them without valid identities.
Another modus operandi the peddlers use is to get booked and arrested in a case in India, so that they are held back for the trial, instead of being extradited or deported to their country of origin.
“After overcoming these impediments, even if we succeed in sending them back to their country, they return with a passport bearing another name, making it difficult for authorities because they get a chance to operate afresh. Biometric identification will help stop them even if they land in India with a fake passport and can be turned away at the airport itself,” said a senior crime branch officer, on condition of anonymity.
Citing the notoriety of the Wadibunder area, where Nigerians have been allegedly peddling drugs for years now, the crime branch is also planning a coordinated effort to weed them out. They peddle from two open plots or the rail overbridge at Wadibunder, sources said.
“In the process, we will write to the railway police, the municipal corporation and the railways. The area needs better illumination and several corrective measures, which need to be put in place,” said Atulchandra Kulkarni, joint commissioner of police (crime).