Since the March 23 halt to international flights in India due to the Covid-19- induced lockdown, a steep fall in the supply of party drug cocaine and heroin has been recorded by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). Officials said opium and marijuana (ganja), especially from Odisha and Jharkhand, have found more takers in Delhi-NCR.
Deputy Director (Operations) K P S Malhotra told The Indian Express that during the lockdown, they have observed a different pattern of people who were earlier supplying cocaine and heroin now supplying marijuana and opium. “Before lockdown, suppliers were using air and cargo routes to smuggle cocaine and heroin to India. With total international trade affected during the lockdown, these suppliers have shifted to opium and marijuana,” he said.
During the lockdown, the NCB recovered 400 kg of opium and 6,500 kg of marijuana from smugglers in country-wide operations. While Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are considered the hubs for illegal supply of opium, Jharkhand has recently emerged as another hub.
“Illegal ganja cultivation in India is largely concentrated around the Naxal-affected Andhra-Odisha border areas. The source of opium trafficking network has linkages in the Naxalite-affected areas of Jharkhand. Ganja from this region finds its way all over the country including Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and West Bengal,” said Malhotra.
In some cases, the NCB found that smugglers were misusing curfew passes to smuggle opium and marijuana on the pretext of supplying essential services.
NCB Deputy Director General (operations) R N Srivastava said, “Schedule X drugs which come under the category of NRX (Narcotics) and psychotropic medicines are being diverted from legal medicinal use to illegal abuse. These are opioid based drugs and various seizures during lockdown point towards the misuse.”
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