To deceive the agencies drug nexuses use using ambulance, funeral vehicles and even fake vehicle numbers of well-known public leaders. A rare thing, but true is hiding of drugs in diaper of kids, use of old age people and pregnant women is also noticed.
By Bharat Singh
The narcotics substances were developed for medicinal purpose. But, just about few decades back, these substances were widely used by one state against another as part of a long-term agenda to target their population and infuse drugs dependency amongst youths. But today it has turned into a very successful business module and a parallel economy across the world.
Talking about Asian subcontinent, Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent are two major areas where these substances are produced, but that is no more the case. The production has shifted as close as possible to the supply chain points along land and sea routes to avoid long handling and detection by law enforcement agencies. Today, technology is also playing an important role in large scale production of chemical-based narcotics substances, which is evident by quantum of durgs being seized across the globe.
Impact in India
Focusing on India specific, the drug nexus is not limited to mode of business, but it has become main artery of survival for terrorist as well as insurgent groups. The Pakistan based terrorist outfits were mainly dependent on funding from various sources. But today, they are also deeply involved in operating a drug nexus. Talking about insurgent groups operating from foreign soil opposite Northeastern States, these groups used to thrive mainly on extortion and tax collection from local populace. But today, they have also become an integral part of well-established cross-border drug machinery to sustain their crumbled organisation and uphold their propaganda. This transition from ideology and propaganda-based terrorist outfits to well established business machinery is clearly visible among groups operating against India from foreign soil.
In recent times, the security forces all along the land and sea borders have seized a large quantity of drugs being planned to be inducted into Indian territory. The major consignment being foiled by security forces in recent times include seizure of 2500 kilograms of high-quality methamphetamine worth 12,000 Crores from southern Kerala Coast in May 2023, a bigger consignment of approximately 3000 kilograms of drugs worth 20,000 Crores from Mundra port in September 2021. Apart from these large consignments, shooting down of drones carrying narcotics substances by security forces along Pakistan border, apprehension of people involved in same kind of cross border smuggling along Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar border is quite a common thing.
The biggest question which arises is how these illegitimate and dangerously huge cartels are successfully operating? And the only answer that makes sense here is, by involvement of local populace supporting such activities. These local support mechanisms are created to establish a comprehensive logistic chain and supply these drugs to the last user. In return, these people are paid a hefty amount by kingpins on successful delivery of consignment. Again, the even more concerning thing is to identify these people who are involved in this business and to understand how the complete mechanism works. To analyse this, here i highlight some events based on true incident in a small border town of Moreh in Manipur state along Myanmar border.
Root of Durg Nexus
Myanmar forms part of Golden Triangle and shares 1600 kilometer of unfenced border with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram states of India. The drug lords operating from Myanmar establish a contact with local residents along border and seek their assistance in carrying these illegal substances not only across the border but to the last user in different parts of country. There are various innovative means, which are being used by the people and modified on a regular basis to avoid setting up a pattern and mislead law enforcement agencies.
How does this Nexus Work?
The drug consignments are brought form Golden Crescent to mainland of Myanmar through different routes and stored in warehouses being located along border areas. Subsequently, routes are identified through virgin lands where presence of security forces is less.
For carriage purpose, the Kingpins of these drug cartel are mainly dependent on exploitation of local people irrespective of age and gender called ‘Carriers’. These people working as Carriers are generally deprived ones, who are unaware about the action being done by them and their subsequent repercussions. These Carriers mainly belong to a very humble background who need an urgent support system to survive or in dire need of money. The threat from malicious people involved in these cartels is also one of reasons, which cannot be ruled out. Apart from this, there is also a set mechanism which is continuously hunting for such vulnerable people, who would do anything for need of money or under pressure. The incidents of well-educated youths involved in such cases just for fast and easy money is also observed in many cases.
The consignments can be carried in a vehicle or on foot. Use of drones for long range transport is not much seen except in case a small flight, just to cross border. If a vehicle is used for fast mode and large quantity, it is modified in many ways to hide the narcotics substances. A few very common places inside a vehicle are seats, cabin, spare-tyre, fuel tank and hood (bonnet) of vehicle.
In case of small quantity and lesser risk, the Carriers form a team, led by one person who moves few hundred metres ahead as scout and assess the deployment of any security force elements. Once the scout gives clearance, the main party carrying actual narcotics moves ahead and keeps repeating the same drill. If the scout assesses some suspicion or enters the already laid trap, he immediately informs the main Carriers and they run back to a safer place. To deceive the agencies deployed to counter such smuggling, there are reports of these nexuses using ambulances, funeral vehicles and even fake vehicle numbers of well-known public leaders. A rare thing, but true is hiding of drugs in diaper of kids, use of old age people and pregnant women is also noticed.
The methods adopted to transport this consignment vary from place to place and innovative means are found every day. Identification and cultivation of vulnerable people as Carriers is also changed with time. But there are few measures, which can be immediately incorporated at various levels.
It’s well known fact that, these nexus are highly alert and well aware about move of security forces and enforcement agencies. They also have a pool of trustworthy local people around them who support this menace. The only option that can be effectively used is imparting awareness to youths and most importantly identifying the vulnerable people who might fall in trap.
The state and central agencies have to take an extra step to stop these activities and develop a trust among residents, who could also help with some credible information. The final responsibility must be taken by society itself. It should not allow such malicious people to spoil the youths.
Finally, to fight this menace and avoid threat to nation, there is an urgent requirement of integrated effort from government and civil agencies and most importantly from of society, which is being affected. Definitely, there have been some major steps taken by various agencies at all levels, but a lot of ground is yet to be covered.