Foreigners account for 20% of narcotics cases

Foreigners account for 20% of narcotics cases

Police have arrested 103 foreigners in connection with narcotics cases in the city in 2017. The total number of arrests is 530, and one in five is a foreigner.

Senior officials in the crime department say foreigners form a large chunk of those smuggling hard drugs into the city. Police had registered 69 cases in 2015, and the number almost doubled to 127 in 2016. Within a year, it doubled again to 354.

While cocaine, opium and MDMA are mostly traded by foreigners, ganja is sold by Indians, mostly labourers. Cocaine is smuggled in through ports in Mumbai, Goa and Delhi, while ganja is brought in by labourers coming in from Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, police say.

A high-ranking official with the crime branch says those hooked to drugs are between 23 and 40. "While men form a large chunk of those who are caught, women are not far behind. Of them, foreigners, especially those from African countries, form a sizeable number," he says. He attributes the increase in ganja trade to the influx of labourers from Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. "Among the foreigners, Nigerians account for almost 95 per cent of the trade," he says.

Foreigners enter the country on study visas and continue to stay on even after their visas have expired. They are difficult to trace because they change their phone numbers and move frequently, he says.

Those caught usually hold up to six ATM cards under different names. "They never use smartphones because they can be tracked down. They have at least three or four SIM cards. They also use second-hand cars with broken number plates," he says. They buy beat-up vehicles because they are cheap, and they also dispose of them cheaply. "The address given in the document is always fake. This is why in case of a crime, it is difficult to trace them," the officer says.

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