Excise forms special squad to stop ganja influx

The sudden influx of ganja in huge quantities from across the border has prompted the Excise Department to form a six-member special squad in the district.

The squad under the direct supervision of the Deputy Excise Commissioner is being led by an Excise Inspector and is entrusted with intelligence gathering and field operations.

“Huge hauls of ganja were reported from across the State recently, exposing the inter-State network for smuggling from across the border, especially Andhra Pradesh. None of those big consignments reached Ernakulam, as they were seized shortly after crossing the check-posts thanks to an alert Excise force in the districts concerned. However, the fact that the potential for a lucrative trade to thrive in the district remains real in the event of some of these consignments reaching here is the reason why we formed the squad preemptively,” said T.A. Ashok Kumar, Deputy Excise Commissioner, Ernakulam.

Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh has emerged as the single biggest source of ganja flowing into the State, especially in the months post-lockdown. Mr. Kumar even suspects that the snuggling networks have been able to sell the drug to a large number of youngsters and jobless people in the wake of the economic distress spawned by the pandemic.

An Excise official with a wide ground-level intelligence network said a situation had evolved where the supply of ganja had overshot the demand, leading to piling up of the drug in Rajahmundry. “Our sources say it has reached a point where youngsters with not much money to buy large stocks and going there for small quantities like 1 to 2 kg end up being bundled with many folds more, as suppliers desperate to clear the stock are willing to take huge cuts in price,” he said. This, he claimed, was the case in which 100 kg of ganja was seized by the Excise squad in Thiruvananthapuram a few days ago.

Mr. Kumar said the huge price cut had left carriers with the potential to make a big profit, if they managed to somehow dodge enforcement and reach the consignments to the distribution networks who even otherwise made a fortune by splitting even a 1 kg consignment into numerous satchels of small quantities.

The district has a well-oiled distribution network comprising youngsters aged below 22, said the official.

Ganja seems to have recaptured its pole position among popular drugs owing to a slew of reasons from easy availability to diminished purchasing capacity of potential buyers. “Large-scale smuggling in of synthetic drugs to the district is no longer feasible, since parties and large gatherings where they were in demand are no longer taking place owing to physical distancing norms,” said Mr. Kumar.

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