The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) yesterday said that it has busted a drug trafficking syndicate operating over darknet and arrested eight persons who were involved in the trade.
NCB Deputy Director K.P.S. Malhotra said that the drug law enforcement agency launched a special drive against psychotropic drugs trafficking especially those using the darknet and internet pharmacy route.
He said that the agency seized 22 lakhs of psychotropic drugs, 70,000 codeine-based cough syrups (CBCS) and 245 kg of psychotropic drugs and arrest of eight persons.
The official said that the agency carried out searches in various parts of Delhi NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
Explaining the functioning style of the syndicate, Malhotra said, “This module has a modus operandi of getting the orders through darknet market host, websites created, internet pharmacy and the same are delivered through the dedicated shippers to create anonymity between the receiver of the order and logistic persons.”
The NCB official said that the investigation so far was based on the specific input that a trafficking network is involved in exportation of psychotropic drugs from India to various parts of world, few consignments were seized and the same were backtracked.
“During investigation, it was found that the shippers are primarily in Delhi NCR and are using fake identities. Based on the backtrack investigation, one of the shipper K. Aggarwal a resident of Agra was was arrested,” he said.
Malhotra said that during his questioning Aggarwal disclosed that he gets his drugs supply from one of the suppliers in Agra.
Following the disclosure, the NCB arrested A. Goyal from Agra, he said that the arrest of A. Goyal led to a startling fact that they are getting the psychotropic drugs from a Haridwar based pharmaceutical company, which is involved in legal production and in that garb, is diverting these psychotropic drugs to these traffickers.
“Raid was conducted at Haridwar at the premises of the pharmaceutical company and their distribution centre based in Agra. The total 37 seizures were affected from this syndicate leading to a cumulative figure of 22 lakhs of psychotropic drugs, 70,000 Codeine Based Cough Syrups (CBCS) and 245 Kg psychotropic drugs,” Malhotra said.
The NCB official further said that following more disclosures by the arrested accused, the agency identified A. Sharma and P.Sharma both masterminds of the syndicate.
They were arrested and their associates — J. Prasad and G. Kumar, who were providing them logistic support in maintaining their websites, darknet sites, order list maintenance and managing the delivering of the parcels or couriers have also been arrested.
He said that they have their counterparts or associates in USA and Canada, which are under probe. The official said that the accused were using various website to attract clients or drug abusers in USA and other countries.
“They had listed these websites out of India and all the footprints of these websites were cleverly camouflaged by using outside India IP addresses. And for the financial transactions they had maintained international accounts based outside of India,” the official said.
He said that during investigation it was revealed that to gain the confidence of the clients, who were primarily based in North America, they had opened these accounts in those territories.
The official added that there accounts were listed as vendors on darknet and they accepted payment in the form of multiple cryptocurrencies like bitcoins.
Malhotra pointed out that investigation has revealed that they had shipped multiple orders or parcels to various countries including US, UK, Canada and Philippines.
“The digital forensics is reflecting figures around a lakh of such orders, which are being backtracked and the detailed network investigation is underway,” he said, adding that the syndicate members are very tech-savvy.
Malhotra said that the members of the syndicate used VOIP methods to communicate with each other and that is using VPN, to avoid the surveillance of drug law enforcement agencies.