The death of NRI Anmol Sarna has put the spotlight back on the easy availability of party drugs in the capital. The absence of a separate narcotics unit, no mechanism to detect drugs and worries far bigger than busting a party have, combined with several other factors, crippled the Delhi Police's fight against smuggling of drugs into the capital.
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NO NARCOTICS DEPT
Till late 2008, the Delhi Police had a separate Narcotics department, headed by a DCP-rank officer. More than a hundred officers worked in the department, dealing only with NDPS (narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances) cases. The unit was disbanded after allegations of corruption and extortion surfaced against its officers, who were asked to report to the Crime Branch henceforth. In hindsight, police officers feel it wasn't a good move as the department played a key role in checking the smuggling of drugs into the city.
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While the use of party drugs such as LSD, ephedrine, cocaine, ketamine and methaqualone appears to be on the rise in the city, police admit there is no mechanism to detect these drugs. Baggage scanners and metal detectors at the airport cannot detect their presence, say police, who primarily depend on tip-offs. The drugs, which usually come in powdered form, are sneaked in inside greeting cards, books, talcum powder jars and toys, police say, making detection difficult.
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LSD, which police say can be easily bought from 'good contacts' in South Delhi malls, is the most difficult to detect. The most common method used by smugglers to sneak in LSD into the country is by soaking a small strip of paper in LSD. In the Anmol case, police say LSD was allegedly smuggled from China.
It maybe a textbook sent from abroad but, once it reaches drug-peddlers in the capital, the book is shredded into hundreds of paper strips ' each strip measuring no more than a bookmark is sold for thousands of rupees.
Party drugs are synthetic drugs, whose chemical components are same as those used in medicines. Ephedrine, commonly used in party drugs, is also an ingredient of medicines used to treat common cold and other ailments. Interrogation of arrested drug-peddlers has revealed ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are smuggled from factories of pharmaceutical companies in Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. "Many industries misuse their licence and sell off chemicals used in medicines. These chemicals find their way to North-eastern states, from where they are smuggled to Myanmar and other countries. Ephedrine or its other forms are then mixed with other ingredients to make party drugs, which are smuggled back into the country," a police officer said.
Another drug easily available in the capital is ketamine. Earlier used for tranquilising animals, with the growing smuggling of ketamine, it is now covered as a psychotropic substance under the NDPS Act. Ketamine is taken orally or snorted.
Cocaine, another party drug, is routinely seized by the Delhi Police. At least 19 Nigerians have been arrested till September 15 this year for peddling cocaine. Police say cocaine enters the country through the sea route via Mumbai.
Bogged down by rising crime and terror threats, police have not been able to give enough attention to drug use in the capital. Officers say they are always cautious about raiding private parties. "Even if we gate-crash into an apartment or hotel at midnight and seize white-powdered substances, will the NCB assist us in identifying it at the spot?" an officer asks.