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PPEs to cashew cartons: Odisha drug seizures hint at peddlers turning innovative

In 2020, Odisha police has so far seized 850 quintals of cannabis as compared to 615 quintals it seized through 2019. The quantity of brown sugar seized this year so far is 28 kg. This is higher than the total brown sugar seized over the last ten years.

Written by Aishwarya Mohanty | Bhubaneswar | Updated: October 7, 2020 6:29:01 pm
On Sunday night, a patrol team of Ganjam police intercepted an ambulance carrying 256 kg cannabis hidden inside PPE kits near Budhamba crossing in Kabisuryangar police station area.

Odisha has reported seizure of substantially high quantities of ganja and brown sugar this year as compared to past years and the recoveries by police have revealed that peddlers are now using innovative ways to transport the contraband.

In 2020, Odisha police has so far seized 850 quintals of cannabis as compared to 615 quintals it seized through 2019. The quantity of brown sugar seized this year so far is 28 kg. This is higher than the total brown sugar seized over the last ten years.

On Sunday night, a patrol team of Ganjam police intercepted an ambulance near Budhamba crossing in Kabisuryangar police station area for overspeeding.

The police grew suspicious when the ambulance crossed two patrol points with no patient inside and only the driver and an aide. On searching the vehicle, police found 256 kg cannabis hidden inside PPE kits the ambulance was carrying. The consignment was being transported to Puri, police said.

According to Prabhat Sahoo, inspector incharge of Kabisuryangar police station, the private ambulance had been hired by the administration for services during the pandemic. The cannabis was being brought from Malkangiri, known for illegal ganja cropping, investigation revealed.

With the easing of restrictions, Odisha police have intensified raids on drug peddlers and every raid has led to recovery of illegal drugs being transported in large quantities. According to police, these had been in stock with the peddlers since the lockdown was imposed on March 25.

A major challenge for police is detecting the unique modus operandis being adopted by peddlers.

On August 1, two residents of Ganjam were arrested when they were allegedly transporting ganja to Delhi by train in 10 cartons of cashew nuts. They were arrested after a railway official found the weight of the cartons suspicious and checked them. The cartons had 411 kg of cannabis valued at Rs 41 lakh.

On September 16, Jeypore police seized an SUV with a logo of the Army and found it was being used to smuggle ganja. Three persons, including two residents of Uttar Pradesh, were arrested and 728.6 kg ganja, worth Rs 50 lakh, was recovered.

“Of late, peddlers have started using posh cars. They try to transport cannabis with agricultural produce like onions. We cannot judge modus operandis beforehand since they keep changing them. The idea is to intercept them with Narco intelligence. There are certain routes on our radar and we track and intercept certain peddlers regularly,” said S K Priyadarshi, Additional Deputy General of Police, CID Crime.

In Odisha, ganja is mostly cultivated in Malkangiri, Koraput and Rayagada and smuggled to other states. including Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Brown sugar is smuggled from West Bengal.

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