Anesthetic ketamine is being increasingly used as a “party drug” in the city, according to police. No seizures have been made by Pune police so far but recent seizures by other agencies show it is being smuggled to other cities.
Ketamine was brought under the purview of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act by the Narcotics Control Bureau as a controlled substance to be manufactured under special licence, after incidents of its smuggling and recreational use came to light.
A week ago, Ratnagiri police assisted by Pune police seized around three kg ketamine worth Rs 3 crore (in the international market) from five people allegedly searching for customers. Ratnagiri SP Sanjay Shinde said, “One of the suspects was employed by a pharmaceutical company and the second suspect – his brother – is a pharmacy graduate. The racketeers stole the drug in small quantities regularly in powder form. They got in touch with the remaining three suspects and were looking for customers when they were arrested.”
A senior Pune police officer said, “It is known ketamine use is increasing in Pune. It is either consumed orally, injected as a solution or even snorted in powder form. In various forms, it ranges from Rs 1,000 to 5,000 per dose. It is not as widely used but it is surely increasing.”
Mukta Puntambekar of Muktangan De-addiction Centre said, “We have not yet admitted a patient with ketamine addiction but some of them told us of having used it as a party drug.”
Another officer from Pune police added, “We have not made any direct seizure from Pune. Our team recently assisted Ratnagiri police for a seizure. Till now it has been seized by narcotics control bureau, directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) and by some police agencies. Their probes show the drug is sneaked out from manufacturing units, and smuggled to cities. One of the biggest seizures was by DRI from Jalgaon last year when ketamine worth Rs 120 crore was seized.”
Police said the seizure from Ratnagiri district had come under the scanner of intelligence agencies.
A DRI official said on the condition anonymity, “Other than recreational use, it is illegally manufactured and smuggled for medical and other purposes. It is important that a close watch is kept on its manufacturing, which now requires a license after it was brought under purview of NDPS Act and under a different schedule of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. A close watch is needed on drug sellers and even medical practitioners.”
Ketamine leaves the user with a “sense of euphoria” or a feeling of disconnect from the self, says a police police officer. Even a little overdose can cause severe damage to the body’s motor control and lead to cardiac arrest and paralysis.