Uttar Pradesh woman held by police for peddling drugs, setting up racket
On a cold night in November 2017, Shabnam Ali called a relative to ask for some money she needed for the treatment of her ailing husband. The relative expressed his inability to arrange for funds but said he could help her earn some money if she delivers a small packet to a house.
The small packet contained smack. Shabnam delivered the packet, got her cut, and that’s how the 34-year old homemaker entered the world of drug peddling.
From delivering small packets of drugs in Shahjahanpur district of west Uttar Pradesh, she developed an intricate system of women drug mules and established a racket that spread across more than five districts in the terai region, giving a tough challenge to the authorities.
She was eventually arrested along with four other gang members on Sunday in Shahjahanpur. “Shabnam was caught red-handed with smack worth Rs 15 lakh. We were observing the activities of her gang for quite some time before we could arrest her,” Superintendent of Police, Shahjahanpur (rural), Aparna Gautam said.
Police officials said Shabnam targeted women living in small families like her with some basic education and got them to become drug mules for her. These women used to pick up drugs of a certain value from handlers and carried them to other suppliers, or in some cases, directly to the customer.
Some of these women also travelled to nearby districts with packets of smack hidden discreetly in their bags or clothing.
“Shabnam paid these women well which helped them support their families. Because the families were small, the members rarely suspected anything,” said a police officer who investigated her.
The police teams are also identifying other women who carried drugs for her.
Shabnam, like other smugglers in the region, used to smuggle smack from the nearby India-Nepal border when she started. Last year, Shabnam set up a system to get high-quality smack from Punjab. “Shabnam also used woman mules to carry the drugs back to UP. Due to the superior quality of her smack, the demand kept rising,” a police officer said.
Shabnam invested the drug money in buying farmlands. Police officials estimated that she purchased a farmland worth over 6 crore rupees last year in her name and in the names of her relatives.