Context:

  • As observed by the intelligence agencies, in the recent times, drug runners have been using the vast seas off India and Pakistan for running their rackets.

Routes across the seas:

  • For the past many years there have been several confrontation, occasional seizures and significant suspicious boat movements to reaffirm the intelligence assessment about the massive flow of drugs from Afghanistan into the Indian Ocean, and its distribution to the rest of the world.
  • According to Indian intelligence agencies, drug syndicates have been exploiting the vast seas off India and Pakistan, which is easily accessible from several countries, for running their rackets. According to their assessment, heroin and other drugs come down from Afghanistan and are loaded into fishing trawlers in Karachi, Keti Bandar or other smaller fishing harbors on the Pakistan coast.

Drug trafficking across the borders of India:

Myanmar:

  • Myanmar is one of the three countries that form the infamous Golden Triangle – a region where opium is produced in massive volume.
  • According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opium production has gone up in the Golden Triangle by 22 per cent.
  • Myanmar has totally failed in checking the growth of the drug trade within its borders, and this has resulted in an unbridled rise in production of all kinds of narcotics.
  • Due to its 1997-km border with Myanmar, China too faced a similar problem in the early 2000s, but Beijing’s shrewd political strategy ensured that the drug paddlers operating out of Myanmar shifted their base near Thailand.
  • India northeast, however, remains at high risk. A recent survey conducted in Arunachal Pradesh by the Institute of Narcotics Studies and Analysis (INSA) revealed that parts of the state were lost to opium cultivation.

Nepal:

  • Over 2,000 individuals were detained on an average each year in the last five years on the charge of their involvement in drugs abuse and smuggling, with the number of female smugglers increasing at an alarming rate.
  • If the current trend continues, the number of smugglers will possibly reach an all time high of 3,300 by the end of this year, police have estimated.
  • It is apparent that international drug smugglers have been using Nepal as a transit for smuggling as it has been discovered that cocaine and heroin arrive in Nepal from Latin American countries such as Brazil and Peru.
  • The cocaine and heroin are not sold in Nepal and instead exported to India, China, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia among other East Asian countries, stated by Narcotics Control Bureau.

Pakistan:

  • Punjab is both a transit point and a market for the drugs smuggled from the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran).
  • While the Afghanistan heroin is smuggled from the porous Indo-Pak border, opium and poppy husk is smuggled from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where poppy cultivation is legal.
  • Charas and Hashish is smuggled from Himachal Pradesh besides the synthetic drugs.
  • Drug units located on Himachal-Punjab borders produce ICE drugs. The 553-km-long International Border with Pakistan is porous at many places which also include local rivers where fencing is missing.
  • Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Ferozepur and Fazilka districts sharing the border with Pakistan are part of the drug smuggling route which the Pakistan or Afghanistan based drug smugglers use to route their consignments.

Bangladesh:

  • Bangladesh is a transit country for drugs produced in the Golden Triangle and, to a much lesser degree, the Golden Crescent.
  • Reports from the Indian Narcotics Control Bureau also indicate that heroin is smuggled from India to Bangladesh through the porous IndoBangladesh border.
  • The smuggling in, diversion and abuse of pharmaceuticals originating from India is considered to be the largest drug problem in Bangladesh.

Reasons of drug trafficking:

  • Due to poverty, opium production is attractive to impoverished farmers as the financial return from poppy is 17 times more than that of rice.
  • Increasing unemployment in the country also serves as one of the major factors for drug crimes in India.
  • Drug trafficking is an organised crime which is working for the terror groups for the financial supply through the marketing of the drugs informally and illegally.
  • Increasing westernisation, industriaisation and growth of youth sub-culture is leading to increasing drug cases in India.

Solutions: Actions to be taken on port:

Here are some more solutions to drug trafficking to consider:

  • Physical barriers could be installed so far as possible in areas below the waterline such as rudder trunking, overboard openings, exposed thrusters/propeller regions, etc. as these are more susceptible to being used by the drug traffickers as conduits for housing the illegal substances.
  • Training should be given to make the crew aware of the possibility that drug traffickers may try find accomplices in order to achieve their ulterior motives of smuggling the drugs.
  • Warning signs or posters may additionally be pasted in the ship’s public areas for general awareness
  • Making risk assessment with officers and the crew to the best of knowledge available when the port of call is alleged of drug smuggling
  • Communicating and contacting the local port and custom authorities of the security threats and the measures to be imparted for combating drug trafficking.
  • A record of all events should be made in the relevant logs for all the communications and activities that have been observed between the ship and the local authorities.

Actions to be taken on ground:

  • If there are specific task force officers assigned to the reduction of drug trafficking in each community, then this would also likely limit the number of individuals involved in this trade.
  • A thorough curriculum that looks at the illegal and illicit drugs for sale, the reasons why people take drugs and other forms of education may delay or eliminate the desire to experiment with them in the first place.
  • In recent months, Indian intelligence agencies have regularly tracked satellite phones of drug syndicates to gain significant clarity on their operation.
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