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Mumbai anti-narcotics cell redefines itself, seizes drugs worth ₹12.54 crore in 2017

The unit attributes rise in seizures in 2017 to focus on drug dealers and suppliers instead of addicts

mumbai Updated: Feb 06, 2018 09:33 IST
Manish K Pathak
Manish K Pathak
Hindustan Times
The ANC registered 68 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in 2017.

What happens when a police unit transforms itself from a “punishment posting” to an active, challenging one? The unit, in this case, is the anti-narcotics cell (ANC) of the Mumbai crime branch, which has managed to make its highest-ever drug seizures in 2017.

Last year, the ANC made a drug haul of Rs12.54 crore, a first since it was set up in 1989. According to police sources, the unit was largely looked upon as defunct, where only erring officers were posted. The perception affected operations, leading to arrests of only addicts and reluctance among officers to go after suppliers or find the distribution points.

Here’s an example: since its formation, the ANC has only one major crackdown against suppliers to its credit – the raiding of two factories in 1994. “Catching customers did not curb the rising influence of drugs in the city,” said a senior police officer, who completed his term with the ANC, requesting anonymity.

Last year, however, the unit changed its strategy, focusing on distribution points and suppliers to weed out major drug syndicates. The result: the ANC registered 68 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, with seizures of mephedrone, heroin, charas, cocaine, marijuana and LSD, among others.

While the number is lower than 2016’s 114 FIRs, the amount of drugs seized in 2017 (worth Rs12.54 crore) is ten times more than 2016’s (Rs1.86 crore).

Shivdeep Lande, deputy commissioner of police, ANC, said: “Our focus was on catching big drug suppliers, and focusing on commercial [large-scale sale] cases. Booking addicts does not help. We realised we need to break the supply chain and came up with a strategy.”

And the plan worked. “We caught saw suppliers from Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and other states in the country,” said Lande.

First Published: Feb 06, 2018 09:32 IST