Guwahati: The metropolitan areas of Guwahati and Assam have become the new targets of the international drug-trafficking ring. In the past, drugs were supplied to other places through Guwahati, but now the metropolis itself has become the epicenter. Due to the increasing demand for drugs in the region, large quantities of narcotics are being shipped here to different parts of the state for consumption.
Assam, Director General of Police, Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta speaking exclusively to Niyomiya Barta revealed that a six-layered network was running an empire of banned drugs in Assam. At the top of this network is an international level production manager who produces opium, the raw material needed for drugs.
“Opium is mainly produced in Myanmar, but it does not meet the demand. Therefore, the production managers have used the remote hilly areas of Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, etc. in the northeast for opium cultivation. This work involves the second level of the drugs network. They are responsible for protecting the opium poppy fields and in return collect large sums of money from the production managers”, added Mahanta.
Various extremist groups in the Northeast provide protection to opium poppy cultivation. Later, this opium is transported to Myanmar. According to the market demand in Myanmar, different types of drugs are manufactured and taken to the third tier of the network i.e. distributors.
All of these distributors are responsible for transporting drugs to various locations at a later stage. They send large quantities of drugs to Assam and other places in the North East at regular intervals. After this, a large number of local people became involved in the drug network.
Local drug dealers play an important role in the entire business, known as ‘receivers’. The last level of the drug network is the local distributor. They sell poisonous drugs in different parts of Assam through agents.
Some of the distributors have taken over the responsibility of selling the drugs themselves while others have been selling drugs through their trusted people and addicted youths. In addition, some young people who do not use drugs themselves have recently resorted to selling drugs. This particular trend came to light after the Assam Police started with a massive crackdown and investigation.
DGP Mahanta said that many mafias from Bihar-Uttar Pradesh have started cultivating opium or cannabis in Assam. For this purpose, they take over the lands in the interior areas and the lands near the rivers of the state and employ the locals to cultivate the land. The Assam Police has uprooted 69 bighas of opium plantation in 2020 and 15 bighas till May 2021. According to the Assam Police, the crop is mainly grown in Barpeta, South Salmara and Kamrup district areas.
Citing statistics on the growing prevalence of drugs in Assam, DGP Mahanta said that there were 455 cases of illicit drug trade in 2018, 826 in 2019, 980 in 2020, and 552 till May 2021. Similarly, 694 people have been arrested in 2018, 1,226 in 2019, 1,652 in 2020 and 838 till May 2021.
The quantity of drugs and other banned substances seized during these years is as follows: In 2018, 7 kg of heroin, 10 kg of opium, 1.25 lakh bottles of cough syrup and 4 lakh meth tablets; In 2019, 24 kg of heroin, 26 kg of opium, 55 thousand bottles of cough syrup, 15.37 lakh meth tablets and 6 kg of morphine; In 2020, 28 kg of heroin, opium 17 kg, 87 thousand bottles of cough syrup, 12.7 lakh meth tablets, 24 kg of morphine and cocaine have been seized by the authorities.
As of May 2021, 17 kg of heroin, 30 kg of opium, 14,974 bottles of cough syrup, 7.48 lakh meth tablets and 1.5 kg of morphine have been seized.
During the current year, the number of drug-related cases reported per month has increased by 105 percent. On an average, 187 criminals are arrested every month.
DGP Mahanta informed that in order to stem the tide of social degradation, the police were planning to hit the ‘supply chain’ of drugs so that emand in the region would decline and supply would be cut off. At the same time, the police are conducting search operations for the main smugglers. There is clear evidence that such smugglers have links to extremist organizations. A case has already been handed over to the Narcotics Control Bureau.