Despite raids and seizures, there’s a haze on Mumbai’s underground coke circuit
Arrests and seizures fail to throw light on the “underground coke circuit” and its popularity among the rich and mighty, said police sourcesUpdated: Feb 06, 2018 09:41 IST
In December 2017, Bakul Chanderia, 45, was arrested from his Khar home with cocaine worth Rs8.48 lakh (106gm) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) worth Rs4 lakh.
According to the anti-narcotics cell (ANC), Chanderia used to run a racket under the guise of a video library at Pali Hill and his arrest was result of a month-long operation. While officials claim the Class 7 dropout supplied drugs to Bollywood celebrities, there is no evidence to prove it.
With 11 cases and 24 arrests in 2017, the ANC seized 782gm of cocaine worth Rs44.53 lakh. But Chanderia’s case shows how arrests and seizures fail to throw light on the “underground coke circuit” and its intensity among the rich and mighty, said sources.
“Big pay packets, high stress levels and in some cases peer pressure drive the elite to coke. Cocaine has become a way of life as the drug induces a feeling of grandeur,” said a senior police officer requesting anonymity.
In the 1980s and 1990s, gangsters like Dawood Ibrahim and Chhota Rajan ran the business sin Mumbai. Now, Colombian cartels, which ran into huge losses in North America and European countries, are tapping the markets in India and South East Asia to make profits, said ANC officials. “Surging growth and newfound prosperity makes India an ideal target,” said an ANC officer, adding cocaine is sold in India for Rs5,000-Rs7,000 a gram. Delhi and Mumbai are hotspots of cocaine users, said the officer.
The United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime in its annual report said the origin, departure and transit of cocaine shipments to Asia were in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Mexico. The African countries used as trans-shipment areas were mainly Nigeria and South Africa. UNODC report states the transit countries in South Asia and South-East Asia were Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and India.
“The seizure of 200kg of cocaine at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in June 2006 showed that the trend was changing. Since then, smugglers send smaller quantities of high-grade cocaine through African nationals,” said the officer. “A majority of peddlers and smugglers arrested in Mumbai belong to African countries, especially Nigeria, which is a key transit point for Colombian drug cartels.”