Hyderabad becoming a hub for global drug trade

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Huge haul of drugs at RGI airport exposes racket.

Hyderabad: The seizure of the drug Ketamine, valued at Rs 2.37 crore from a Hyderabadi passenger, at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, by customs officials early this week, was just the tip of the iceberg.

It turned out he was trying to smuggle the drug to Malaysia. A probe into the smuggler’s background has revealed that he is part of a racket, which pours synthetic drugs worth millions of dollars into the foreign market. Hyderabad is these criminals’ manufacturing hub. They take orders from their counterparts abroad and produce Methamphetamine, Ketamine, Ephedrine and even Methaqualone (meth) in Hyderabad and smuggle it to South East Asian countries through air flights.

The growing number of small-scale pharmaceutical units on the city outskirts are providing a fillip to the racketeers. The criminals use the facilities of these labs to produce the drugs and pay the owners a handsome amount. “The gangs usually take the manufacturing units on rent for a few days and produce the material. It does not take much time for an experienced pharmacist to manufacture a huge quantity of synthetic drugs,” said a senior official from Rachakonda police.

The pharmacists and other workers are usually hired temporarily, because of which they are disconnected from the racket leaders. This makes it difficult for enforcement agencies to track down the kingpins.

The lack of coordination between various agencies like Drug Control Administration, state police, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Customs department too sometimes help the major kingpins to escape before the top bosses of the racket are trapped. “When customs officials capture a smuggler at the airport, they try to investigate the case. But the department has so many limitations, it’s hard for them to go out into the field, where the production of drugs really happens, and track down the leaders of the racket,” said a former customs official.

City police often conduct raids based on their intelligence inputs and bust a few gangs, but most of the time they too can’t track down the ‘brains’. After an interval, a few more new rackets are formed under the leadership of these suspects.

Police officials say that they arrest the owners of the labs whenever they bust rackets. But since there are dozens of labs active, it’s not difficult for drug rackets to find a new one and go ahead with their business.

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