July 10, 2019
Kerala: From TV stars and small timers in the film industry to food delivery boys, the link in the drug trade in Kerala is growing longer and more novel. Not a single day passes without reports of drug seizures in a State that had earned notoriety for its drinking spree.
Towards the end of last year an excise raid on the flat in Kochi of a TV actress who has also had minor roles in a few Malayalam films, led to the seizure of MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine) also known as ‘ecstasy’. This psychoactive drug induces altered sensations and pleasure producing effects lasting for around five to six hours. According to excise sleuths, she was part of the drug chain and the stuff was meant to be used for New Year parties.
Recently, two persons who are part of the film industry with one of them who has also acted in a few films were arrested for engaging in drug trade and were said to be part of a big racket.
The authorities have swooped down on food delivery boys after two cases of they being used for doorstep drug supply came to light recently.. Most of such drug trade contacts are made through social media platforms and a WhatsApp message can help one fetch these drugs. The excise department is seeking the help of the police IT wing to bring such peddlers under its radar, said a top excise official.
The proliferation of narcotics substances can be gauged by the astronomic rise in the number of cases registered over the last few years, he told The Covai Post.
It was a total 7,573 cases registered under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) in 2018 by the excise department. This does not include NDPS cases registered by the state police and the Narcotics Control Bureau, or else the figure should nearly double, said the official. It was 5,944 in 2017, up from 2,985 in 2016 and 1,430 in 2015.
The seizure of banned drugs was worth Rs 650 crore in 2018, more than double from Rs 300 crore the previous year and Rs 200 crore in 2016. Kochi remains the den as of the 7,802 arrests in 2018, the city accounted for 922.
If a good part of the ganja cultivation in the High Ranges were destroyed a few years ago and stuff started coming from newer pastures of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha where migrant labourers were used for peddling, the whole drug scenario has changed.
No longer is it ganja, which incidentally finds a place in the Malayalam lexicon ‘Shabtataravali’ as a drug with also a mention that it is good for the brain, or hashish or brown sugar that lead the trade These are dominated by ‘stronger and more effective’, though more dangerous psycho-active chemical substances.
The substances come in a variety of permutations and combinations and are sold as recreational drugs. Synthetic cannabinoids come under different names like phencyclidine, ketamine, aminoindane and piperazines among the few.
Antidepressants and as painkillers used for cancer patients are also finding their way as drugs, especially among youth. These drugs that are sold under prescription for roughly Rs 20 per ampoule, reach addicts at over Rs 500 per ampoule through peddlers.
The rise in the number of seizures and cases is the result of the success of the surveillance of the excise department, say officials. There have been new norms for online food suppliers to appoint delivery boys. This is an indication of the success of the department initiatives.
Officials point to decline in sale of drugs to children near schools and colleges. The number of cases registered fell to 2,474 in 2018 from 3,067 in 2017, though it was low at 2,404 in 2016.