Nine days after the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) arrested the country’s first narcotics vendor on the dark web, three alleged intermediaries who passed on the information of orders to a company in Singapore were nabbed from Maharashtra’s Nagpur on February 11.
Accused Sachin Makade (33) holds a degree in pharmacy, Barun Chauhan (33) is an MBA graduate, and Tejas Patel (28) is a college dropout who worked with the two, police said. ‘Dark web’ is a part of the internet which cannot be accessed by ordinary search engines, and is often used for illegal activities such as buying drugs and hacking accounts.
A senior police officer said, “On February 2, we arrested Dipu Singh (21), the first person arrested in India for selling drugs on the dark web. Questioning revealed the chain of supply. Singh would get orders for psychotropic drugs like Tramadol on dark web portals such as Empire Market. He would then pass on information about the orders to these three men in Nagpur, who had a shipping contact in Singapore, which in turn would ship these drugs to the US and UK.”
Singh would allegedly transfer money to their bank accounts, and the three men would pay their Singapore contact in Bitcoins, said an officer. “These three men mostly dealt in drugs like Viagra initially. In 2018, when Tramadol was declared a controlled psychotropic drug under the NDPS Act, they began dealing in this,and received orders mainly from the UK and US,” said K P S Malhotra, zonal director, Delhi Zonal Unit (NCB). He said the three men also allegedly received orders from the Philippines.
While talking about Singh’s arrest, which led to these subsequent revelations, a senior officer said, “We randomly picked this vendor and placed an order, which we received. Our concentration is on Indian vendors who are selling opioid-based drugs on the dark web.”
An officer said Singh, like most vendors, had two ways of selling drugs on the dark web — one, by using this chain, and another, by directly sourcing drugs and shipping them to clients. Singh’s questioning has revealed the main source, and on February 12, three parcels containing 7,800 psychotropic drug tablets meant for Bokaro, Surat and Aurangabad were seized from Punjabi Bagh, police said.
Malhotra said, “The consignor of the parcel was based in Sonepat’s Kundli and a raid was conducted on February 15. The accused is absconding since Singh’s arrest, but 91,000 tablets of Tramadol and Alprazolam, and 135 kg of loose tablets were recovered.”
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