On the Web, chasing the kick | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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On the Web, chasing the kick

mumbai Updated: Sep 02, 2012 01:20 IST

“THIS Sunday we decided to bring something down… 20th of MAY, DESIGNER HIPPIES ARE bringing the SUN “DOWN” Lets rock this town- so get ready to get high…Please do not try to FLY.. Because Flying is an illusion not a Reality, come with us and we’ll make you feel Gravity… ;) ….. *Support the Music not the Drugs”

This is not a straight-forward invitation to a party; there are codes and hints buried in the text that hold definite meanings for addicts but elude a layperson, and confuse or exasperate the police, whose job is to crack down on users and traders of banned substances. Mapping the drug trade

This invitation was for a party at Oakwood Hotel, Juhu, one of the few busted by the Mumbai police recently based on suspicious invites; 110 gm of cocaine was confiscated and 86 of the 90 people present tested positive for the use of cannabis-related drugs.

A rave busted at Khalapur in Raigad district in June also had used similar coded invitations, sent out through social networking sites. Drug seizures this year

Increasingly, the drugs market in Mumbai has moved online. Both, invites for parties where substances will be available as well as the substances themselves are available online, on popular social networking sites, said sources in the Mumbai police and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). High-end drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy are easily available online, besides being available at select discotheques and pubs.

This shift from the shady street corner to the anonymous ether of the Web has made the policeman’s job more difficult — and has introduced cyber-patrolling into the techniques used to track and crack down on offenders.

“Our men patrol the Internet to look for suspicious messages,” says Nandkishore More, senior inspector with the Bandra-Kurla cyber police. The cyber wing of the Mumbai police now regularly monitors social networking sites for party invites that sound suspicious and key words that redirect them to suspicious pages.

But it’s not easy. “Such invites are usually posted on closed groups. It’s hard to break into the network,” explains an officer from BKC cyber police station. Also, the code words vary and keep changing.

“For this, officers abroad go underground and create a profile that they sustain for three or four years, to win the trust of those involved in such activities,” says cyber expert Vijay Mukhi. “You can’t expect to be trusted with rave party invites within months. Our police should train under the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] or Interpol.”

Meanwhile, the ease of procuring banned substances has meant that Mumbai market is growing. The NCB estimates that the city consumes more than Rs 200 crore worth of cocaine and charas alone every year.

Agencies are also finding a shift from cocaine to synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine, because they are easy to produce, are therefore easily available and cost half as much, and have the same effects.