Palakkad: The drug mafia has widened its net in Kerala launching "cooking" centres at various places for the preparation of the MDMA drugs.
They have resorted to this ploy since it has become very difficult for them to traffick MDMA drugs from Bangalore and Chennai to Kerala because of the increased vigil by government agencies.
MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) also known as ecstasy, E, or molly, is a psychoactive drug primarily used for recreational purposes.
The intelligence agencies and Excise special squad have confirmed that the drug mafia has started preparing MDMA material in the State itself and supplying it to various centres.
A large quantity of MDMA in both crystal and powder forms were seized in the recent drug busts at Poovar in Thiruvananthapuram and at No.18 hotel in Fort Kochi. The investigation that followed after the drug seizure in Kochi has given hints about the powerful cinema connections and Kasaragod links of those supplying dangerous chemical drugs.
The probe agencies have also got vital information from those involved in drug trafficking through Walayar check-post that "cooking centres" exist in Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Malappuram.
The police have also gathered news about 12 such cooking centres. Authorities are concerned that these centres can supply drugs to more areas in higher quantities.
After the unfolding of events related to the arrest of No.18 hotel owner Roy at Fort Kochi in connection with the death of two models, four cooking centres were found closed.
In a real embarrassment for probe agencies engaged in anti-drugs activities, one of the youths who was nabbed during the raid at a drug party in a professional college in a northern district turned out to be the relative of one of the officials who is leading the anti drug operations in Kerala. Moreover, the supply of drugs to Kerala through courier service has increased.
'Drug cooking kitchens'
The MDMA that comes from abroad is stored in Chennai and Bangalore. According to the Narcotics Control Bureau experts, this imported MDMA stuff is made more intoxicating by adding some chemical elements. Certain chemical elements, which were banned as per anti-drugs control Act, are added to the imported MDMA, making it more potent and dangerous.
The use of such psychotropic substances leads to physical and mental fatigue in a person. Once used, the person will remain addicted to the substance.
Cooking centres will possess all the equipments required to add chemical elements to MDMA. A cooking centre can function in a space not more than that the size of a bathroom. In Bangalore and Chennai, a minimum of five cooking centres function in one building.
The wholesale dealership of MDMA business in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi is being run by African nationals. But its roots extend to the level of Taliban.
Excise and other probe agencies are trying to root out cooking centres in Kerala at the beginning stage itself. The agencies are now focused on a combined operation to trace the cooking centres.
2 kg output at one cooking centre
In one kitchen, two kilograms of MDMA are prepared. One gram of MDMA costs Rs 2,000.
The Excise Department itself informed the High Court of Kerala that the number of women and girls involved in the drug mafia has gone up.
According to the Excise authorities, there is a pattern for women falling prey to the mafia. Those who take the first dose of MDMA, either under the persuasion of their lover or classmate, slowly turns into a drug addict. After some point of time, they tend to become drug carriers. It comes a full circle during the third and final stage when these women resort to "cooking".
A network covering almost 120 persons is involved in the sale of a freshly-prepared two kg of MDMA. When youngsters are caught in the drug trafficking cases, the probe agencies usually call up parents directly and convince them of the gravity of the case. Some of the students are sent to de-addiction centres.
Exorbitant price for MDMA in DJ parties
The gravity of the use of MDMA can be gauged from the mere fact that keeping half a gram of MDMA is a non-bailable offence under the law while keeping brown sugar is a non-bailable offence only if the quantity that is kept is more than 2 grams.
According to State Excise Enforcement Special Cell Head T.Anil Kumar, MDMA usually is sold for a price of R s2,000. But during DJ parties, its price goes up to Rs 10,000.
The Excise got wind of the exorbitant rate of MDMA after the raid in Ernakulam. After a couple of drinks and a few dancing sessions at DJ parties, people somehow want to use MDMA to get more ecstatic. The middlemen usually use this opportunity to make maximum profit. The usual modus operandi is that MDMA packets are kept inside the undergarments of the employees of the hotels and are supplied to customers when they specifically ask for it.
Large-scale supply through courier services
According to the authorities, the ease found in storing and supplying MDMA is the reason for its great demand. More people, especially youngsters, are falling prey to its continuous use exactly due to this reason.
The police had caught hold of many students who purchased MDMA by clandestinely withdrawing money from the account of their parents.
The parents would come to know of the withdrawal of the money only when they were informed of the matter by the police. By that time, things are usually out of control and their wards are addicted to drugs. There were umpteen cases in which such things were hushed up and never revealed.
The business of supplying drugs through parcel service is not a new affair in Kerala, the State which is now known as a major hub of illicit drugs supply.
Recently, the courier packets seized from the border area of Thiruvananthapuram district contained 15 kilograms of ganja each. There are parcel agencies through which even 1 kilo of ganja is delivered.
In a well-planned strategy to escape from the clutches of the probe agencies, the phone number which is written on the courier cover would be that of someone else and not that of the owner.
It might be recalled that drugs were earlier transported in Korea in the garb of tamarind. The drugs were kept inside the shell of tamarind and transported.
"Parivarthan" raid destroys 5,964 acres of ganja
The "Parivarthan" operation carried out by the Andhra police special cell in Visakhapatnam district with the help of the local people destroyed 5,964 acres of ganja cultivation. The operation was carried out after the law and order situation worsened in the district due to the increased sale and consumption of drugs.
Almost 982,425 ganja plants were removed and put on fire. According to Andhra police, the ganja worth Rs.1491.2 crore was destroyed.
The operation began on October 31. The police claimed that after the success of the operation, there was a positive change in the attitude of adivasis. Earlier, adivasis used to cultivate ganja under the wrong influence of the drug mafia. A big share of the ganja cultivated there is brought to Kerala by middlemen and drug mafia members.
The drug mafia in Andhra also suffered a setback as it failed to sell the harvested ganja cultivated in Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam districts due to the adverse situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, a kilo of ganja was later sold for Rs 1,000. During the earlier seasons, the price was Rs 3,000 per kilo.
The Excise Enforcement in Kerala have got a tip-off that 71 persons are acting as agents of ganja cultivators in Andhra. Most of them belong to Idukki and other border areas of the State.