THE RECENT busts by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) have revealed a new modus operandi employed by the drug mafia to escape the clutches of law. Traditionally, the details of the receiver of a consignment would be shared with the courier who ferried it. Upon his arrival in the country, the courier used to get in touch with the receiver and hand him over the banned substances. But with multiple agencies cracking down on the couriers, the drug mafia has changed its delivery method.
According to the NCB, the information of the receiver is no more shared with the courier. He is only assigned the task of ferrying the consignment with the brief that the “source” will get in touch with him after a couple of days. Meanwhile, the cartel does its checks and only after the guy is termed “clean” does he receive a call. This time it’s with a name and the address of the receiver.
“In the past, after apprehending the courier, we used to generally get the link to their receiver, but now the drug cartel has factored this weak link and adopted a unique modus operandi wherein the information of the receiver is not shared with the courier. This is done to safeguard the receiver in the event of the arrest of the courier,” NCB zonal director, Sanjay Jha, told The Indian Express. The courier has to wait till he receives a call from his source on whom to deliver it. The source contacts the courier only when he is sure that the courier has not been apprehended by any of the agencies,”added Jha.
Jha adds that the NCB stumbled upon this information while investigating the two cases busted recently by the central agency. “This modus operandi was revealed by two foreign nationals who had been recently arrested by us in two separate cases.
Their interrogations revealed that they had no information on the receiver. This was done so as to ensure that the end trail is not compromised,” he said.
On Saturday, the NCB nabbed a Colombian national, Col Trujillo Renteria with 5.9 kilogram of cocaine valued at Rs 36 crore in the international market. On Friday, a Bolivian woman, Melgar De Claudia, was caught with 3.25 kilogram of cocaine worth Rs 20 crore. While the agency has made bigger seizures in the past, the recent cases disclose a departure from the traditional means employed by the drug cartel.
This modus operandi is making the task of the enforcement agencies a bit difficult. But that is not all. To get to the source is also an uphill task for the investigators. “It’s not just the receiver, even tracking the source is also equally challenging.
The courier is never approached directly by the source. A layer of contacts are used to first identify the courier and then assign him the task of ferrying the consignment. Once the job is done, the source snaps all contacts with the courier. Also, a direct flight is never used and the courier is made to travel through connecting flights so as to confuse investigators on the source of the drugs,” explained an official who did not wish to be named.
The NCB reveals that the drug cartels are now using patients suffering from AIDS or HIV as their couriers. “A lot of research goes in identifying the couriers. Before approaching them, the mafia has already run a background check on them and knows their weak points. While people with poor economic backgrounds who agree to ferry banned substances are generally used as couriers, we are now seeing an increasing trend of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases, like AIDS, who are being used as couriers,”revealed another official. A couple of patients, including women suffering from such diseases, have been arrested by the NCB.
Explaining the maths of the business, sources say that a courier is paid anywhere between 3,000 to 4,000 dollars for every kilogram of contraband ferried by him.
This is in addition to the expenses like the flight tickets, hotel stay which is already taken care by the source. And now, with the change in the modus operandi, the source also pays an additional sum to the courier that will help him sustain a couple of days before he contacts him for delivery,” added the official.