BSF detects new modus operandi of Phensedyl smugglers along Indo-Bangla border | Kolkata - Hindustan Times

BSF detects new modus operandi of Phensedyl smugglers along Indo-Bangla border

Apr 23, 2023 09:35 AM IST

The BSF apprehended a postman, who cloned the barcodes and consignment numbers and delivered the drug to smugglers living in villages along the Indo-Bangla border

A new modus operandi, using cloned barcodes and consignment numbers to pack parcels containing Phensedyl and get the drug delivered to smugglers living in villages along the Indo-Bangla border, has been detected by the Border Security Force (BSF), officials said.

BSF personnel intercepted a postman on April 20 while he was on the way to deliver a parcel that contained 38 bottles of Phensedyl. (Representative Image)
BSF personnel intercepted a postman on April 20 while he was on the way to deliver a parcel that contained 38 bottles of Phensedyl. (Representative Image)

This was being done to hoodwink security agencies, who patrol the villages in bordering areas, but usually don’t check parcels being delivered by postmen to villagers.

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“This is a new modus operandi which has been detected. This has been going on over the past 7 – 8 months, we have learnt. A postman, who used to clone the barcodes and consignment numbers, was apprehended. He was handed over to the local police” said a top official of the BSF’s south Bengal Frontier.

Acting on a tip off, BSF personnel intercepted a postman Talat Mahmood on April 20 around 12 noon, while he was on his way to Hakimpur in North 24 Parganas district to deliver a parcel.

“He was carrying a large and heavy parcel with barcodes and consignment numbers. On searching it was found that the parcel contained 38 bottles of Phensedyl,” said the official.

Phensedyl is in high demand in Bangladesh where it is used as an alternative to alcohol.

The new modus operandi

According to senior BSF and police officials, the cough syrup is legally manufactured in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan district, from where agents along the Indo-Bangla border in West Bengal procure them through dealers and distributors based in Varanasi and Lucknow.

“With BSF patrolling the bordering villagers, getting the consignments of phensedyl delivered at the doorsteps of smugglers is a risky job. Here came Mahmood, a postman of Duttapukur post office,” said an official.

Mahmood, before delivering any parcel to a villager living close to the international border, used to take snapshots of the barcode and consignment numbers on the parcel. He would then come back and make clones of the barcodes and consignment numbers. These were used on parcels containing Phensedyl. This made the parcels look like original and helped to hoodwink the security agencies. He used to change the senders’ and recipients’ address.

“Mahmood, being a postman, it was easier for him to pass through security agencies without any hassle. More so because the parcel looked like an original one with cloned barcodes and consignment tracking numbers. Had the smuggler tried to do this, chances of getting caught would have been more. Hence the smugglers used his expertise to get the parcel delivered at the doorstep close to the porous international border. Once they had the parcel delivered they would smuggle it to Bangladesh later,” said the official.

A lucrative business

Alcohol is forbidden for Muslims but Bangladeshi Muslims use Phensedyl as an alternative to alcohol. They can legally drink it only if they have a doctor’s prescription recommending it for health purposes.

“This makes the smuggling all the more lucrative. A cost of one bottle of Phensedyl, which sells for around 180 – 200 in India, instantly shoots up to 300 – 500 as soon as it crosses the border. By the time the consignment reaches Dhaka, the cost of one bottle could even go up to even 1,800 – 2,000,” said a senior police officer of North 24 Parganas, a bordering district.

Preliminary interrogation of Mahmood revealed that he used to deliver around 35 – 50 bottles in each consignment and at least four to five consignments every month.

“He used to deliver the bottles keeping a hefty margin. For every bottle he used to keep a margin of at least 200. Per month he would make at least 40,000,” said a BSF official.

Out of the 4096.7-km-long Indo-Bangla border, West Bengal shares a 2,216-km stretch with Bangladesh. The India-Bangladesh border in West Bengal is the longest and one of the most porous international borders in any state with rampant smuggling, trafficking, and other illegal activities.

“With cattle smuggling going down, the smuggling of drugs such as Phensedyl and Yaba tablets have shot up over the past few years,” said a senior BSF official.

Sometimes the smugglers also take the help of innovative ways. On August 9, BSF found a raft made out of stems of banana plant and well camouflaged with water-hyacinths floating down the river. When it was recovered the men found that a huge air-tight can was tied to it and it was loaded with bottles of Phensedyl.

In south Bengal, the border is over 900-km-long out of which nearly 60% is riverine. Where the border is fenced the smugglers just throw the items over the fence.

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    Joydeep Thakur is a Special Correspondent based in Kolkata. He focuses on science, environment, wildlife, agriculture and other related issues.

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