Bhubaneswar, Oct 16 (LocalWire): With around 37,000 kilograms of hemp worth Rs 368 crore being seized in 20 months from Malkangiri, on the southern tip of the state, the district is fast-emerging as the gateway of inter-state drug trafficking.
The narcotics seized from mountainous region since 1 January, 2018 are valued at a whopping Rs 368.62 crores.
The district, according to Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) sources, accounts for around 30 per cent of total ganja seizures across the state since 2018. The large quantity of contraband has put Malkangiri on the pedestal of Odisha’s largest ganja-producing region.
Yesterday, 1,500 kilograms of ganja valued at Rs 1.5 crores were seized from the district and two drug peddlers were arrested.
The consignment, loaded in a truck, was on its way to Andhra Pradesh when policemen acting on a tip off, successfully intercepted it.
In 2018, 102 Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act cases were booked and 17,118 kilograms of ganja seized. Of the 179 drug peddlers arrested last year, 89 of them were from outside the state.
Similarly in the current year, 19,744 kilograms of the contraband have been seized till yesterday and 191 drug peddlers taken into custody, of whom, 60 were outsiders.
Taking advantage of slack surveillance by intercepting squads, the drug peddlers have found Malkangiri a safe haven for smuggling. It is being widely believed that the trade flourished here solely because of a nexus of both the excise and police personnel with the peddlers.
The contraband smuggled from Malkangiri makes its way to southern and northern parts of the country.
The inaccessible and forested regions of the district have turned into safe haven for ganja cultivation. As the area is a major Left wing extremism hotbed, hemp plantation is done with consummate ease with support from the Red ultras.
The hemp producers are given protection by the ultras in lieu of protection money.
The trend has been going on for quite some time as police and excise personnel are afraid to venture into the areas.
Everything acts to the advantage of the drug smugglers. Inaccessibility to the region along with a conducive climate leads to the mushrooming of hemp plants and the poor fall into the trap of smugglers as they are lured with money.
The drug traffickers from other states prefer smuggling ganja from Malkangiri because of its low price. Buying it for Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000, the consignments are sold at 25 to 30 folds higher.
Truckloads of illegal consignments are dispatched to Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Telangana, West Bengal and the northern states.
Though its dispatch is a risky proposition given the fact that NDPS Act provisions are stringent, the profit drives peddlers to carry on smuggling of the contraband.
Of late, the drug peddlers have found innovative ways to smuggle the banned substances from Odisha to other parts of the country.
Stashed in cosmetic goods and baby food packets, the ganja peddlers have resorted to new methodology to escape detection and safely transit the narcotics to desired destinations.
There are also instances of ganja being smuggled in SUVs with ‘ambulance’ written over it to escape detection.
‘The rise in seizure and arrest of drug peddlers proves that enforcing agencies are doing their duty.
The enforcement squads are now focusing on destroying cannabis plants as the season has already begun,’ said Malkangiri Superintendent of Police, Rishikesh Dnyandeo Khilari.