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Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

What is Black cocaine, seized by the NCB in Mumbai?

As per reports, in the mid-1980s, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet ordered his army to build a secret laboratory to make "black cocaine" which could not be detected by law enforcement agencies.

Black cocaine seized at Mumbai.To ensure that sniffer dogs used at airports do not detect cocaine, "black cocaine" is being used by drug peddlers coming to India from South American countries. (Express photo)

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Wednesday (September 28) arrested a Bolivian woman from Mumbai airport for allegedly carrying black cocaine. Based on her interrogation, the NCB also arrested a Nigerian national from Goa, who was to receive the contraband.

NCB Mumbai Zonal Director Amit Ghawate said they had credible input that a South American national would be arriving at Mumbai through a flight following which she was nabbed. A thorough search of her luggage led to the discovery of false cavities wherein 12 tightly packed packets were recovered. Upon checking the packets, a black-coloured substance was found.

What is Black Cocaine?

“Black cocaine”, a rare drug, is a mixture of regular cocaine and other chemicals of administrated quantity. In a bid to ensure that sniffer dogs used at airports do not detect cocaine, it is being used by drug peddlers coming to India from South American countries. It neutralises the smell of cocaine so that it can pass through checkpoints easily. Black cocaine is a mixture of regular cocaine base with various substances to camouflage typical appearance (e.g. charcoal), to interfere with colour-based drug tests (cobalt salts form deep red complexes in solution), to make the mixture undetectable by drug-sniffing dogs as activated carbon may sufficiently absorb trace odours.

The pure cocaine base is then recovered from the mixture by extraction using common organic solvents such as methylene chloride or acetone. A second process is required to convert the cocaine base into powdered cocaine hydrochloride.

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black cocaine Black Cocaine was seized at Mumbai airport. (Express photo)

Since when has it been used to evade law enforcement agencies?

As per reports, in the mid-1980s, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet ordered his army to build a clandestine cocaine laboratory in Chile to make black cocaine which could not be detected by law enforcement agencies. In 2008, black cocaine was discovered by police in Spain which had been manufactured into rubber-like sheets and made into luggage. In 2021, a major consignment of black cocaine – 860 kgs – was seized in Spain.

Officials say that this is a disturbing trend. While this time around they could nab the woman since they had a specific tip-off about her, in the absence of intelligence they may find it difficult to detect the contraband.

What has been the major source of cocaine in India?

South American countries where coca plants grow are major suppliers of cocaine to India. Generally, Mumbai is one of the landing points from where it is then sent to other parts of the country, especially to metro cities and Goa. Amongst narcotics, Cocaine is one of the most expensive ones and is primarily used by the upper classes of society.

First published on: 30-09-2022 at 12:46:06 pm
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