India is becoming a hot spot for drug traffickers who smuggle narcotics in the country even as vigilant authorities tries to break the network of this illicit trade the traffickers are using the modern mediums including online methods to lure the drug addicts.
Reasons India emerging a favored route for drug traffickers:
India faces several challenges in its efforts to curb the drug trafficking as it is squeezed between two largest areas of illicit opium production the Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle. These two regions alone account for meeting 90 per cent of the demand of heroin and methamphetamine. While Golden Crescent includes parts of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan whereas Golden Triangle comprises of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
Drug use remains high in India
According to one of the very comprehensive reports published by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) few years back in 2018 around 5 crore Indians reported to have used cannabis and opioids in that year.
An estimated 8.5 lakh people inject drugs. Punjab, Assam, Delhi, Haryana, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh have the highest number of such drug users contributing to more than half the number. Alarmingly more than 60 lakh people are estimated to need help for their opioid use problems.
The drugs which are in high demand ranges from age-old cannabis to newer prescription drugs like tramadol, and designer drugs like methamphetamine.
Online purchase of drugs is a challenge for authorities
The online platforms are emerging as a new way of selling drugs. The global trend of purchasing drugs over the internet, particularly on darknet trading platforms using cryptocurrencies has already spread across South Asia which is particularly rampant in India.
Few years back Indian authorities dismantled two illicit Internet pharmacies, seizing close to 130,000 tablets containing psychotropic substances. Fifteen people were arrested in the process.
Efforts taken by government to combat drug trafficking
Directive Principles, contained in Article 47 of the Constitution of India, directs the states to prohibit the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drugs injurious to health. The National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances is based on this principle only.
The government has been turning the heat on the illicit drug trading in India. Several efforts have been taken which are showing very encouraging results. Drugs worth Rs.768 crore only were seized in 2006-13, it has increased almost 30 times to Rs.22,000 Crore in 2014-22. 181% more number of cases have been registered against drug peddlers in comparison to the earlier period.
Around 6 lakh kg of seized narcotics have been destroyed across the country so far for preventing re-use of seized drugs.
To strengthen this campaign, the Ministry of Home Affairs established NCORD in 2019 and Anti Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) was formed in the police department of every state, first national conference pf ANTF was held in April 2023 in Delhi.
So far India has signed 17 MOUs, 28 Bilateral Agreements and 49 Extradition Treaties to curb the illicit drug trade.
Last year a total of 30407 arrests were made in drugs related cases while there were 27578 number of seizures. A majority of 17048, over half of the arrests were made for Ganja trafficking. Similarly, 3681 arrests were made for Heroin trafficking, 1046 arrests for Charas Trafficking, 713 arrests for opium, 57 arrests for cocaine trafficking and 4140 arrests for psychotropic substances.
As of 2021, all over India 749761 kg of Ganja has been seized, while 4140 kg of Hashish has been seized in the same period. The authorities also seized 337 kg of Cocaine and 7618 kg of Heroin.
Complicity of foreign nationals in Drug trafficking
In 2021 a total of 345 foreign nationals were arrested for drugs trafficking in India. The highest drugs traffickers arrested were from Nepal at 115 followed by Nigeria 87. Also, the arrested persons included 22 from Myanmar, 17 from Sri Lanka, 13 from Iran and 14 from Afghanistan.
Increase in maritime trafficking of drugs
The maritime drug trafficking in Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal poses new challenges to drug law enforcement agencies and they anticipate further increase of this route by international drug trafficking syndicates operating from Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is estimated that more than 70 percent of total drug trafficking is being conducted through maritime route.
Interception of maritime drug trafficking, especially in the Western region of India has witnessed an increase. Most of such seizures are sourced from the ports of Afghanistan/ Iran which are destined to coastal states in India or are in further transit to countries like SriLanka, Maldives etc. While Heroin is the most trafficked drug through maritime route, ATS, Charas, Cocaine etc. are also seized.