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Drug Trafficking in India

Drug trafficking is one of the most serious problems for most countries all over the world. Unfortunately, this type of business is rather profitable, if not to consider that it is constantly related to murders, kidnapping, prostitution and other crimes.

Certainly drug trafficking contributes to better distribution of drugs, thus involving more and more people, making them addicted. Taking into consideration all the possible dangers, drugs are able to bring to any society, most countries are working constantly in order to prevent use and distribution of drugs which are not legal. The rage of responsibility varies in different countries, from fines and several years in prison to death punishment. Generally, drug trafficking means production, distribution and sale of illegal drugs.

Historically, it is possible to talk about appearance of illegal drug trade around the beginning of the 19th century. China retaliated by enforcing the ban on imports of opium that led to the First Opium War (1839�1842) between Great Britain and China. The highest authorities in China struggled against free sales of opium, whereas United Kingdom pushed China to let the merchants from China bring opium without any bans. However the volumes of opium trade continued to grow, because smoking opium turned into a habit among usual people.

No wonder that the number of opium addicts grew immensely in the 19th century. The Second Opium War took place in 1856, the result of the two wars was that the British Crown, via two treaties, took large sums of money from the Chinese government through this illegal trade, which were referred to as reparations.

In the year 1868, the government of the UK took the decision to restrict sale of opium in the Pharmacy Act. In 1914 Harrison Act followed in the United States. Thus, it is clear, that even taking into consideration the fact, that opium sale brought good profits, sooner or later, governments had to restrict and take under control illegal drugs, in order not to worsen the situation with addicted people.

Those countries, where drugs transit and distribution was widely developed, had to face the problems with drug addicted individuals. Most researches confirm the fact that illegal drug trade is closely related to crimes' rate, namely such violent crimes, as murders. In this case we are unfortunately talking not only about developing, but about developed countries as well. For example, In the late 1990s in the United States the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated that 5% of murders were drug-related. Because of high cost of the illegal drugs and strong addiction, people are likely to commit serious crimes, including robberies, burglaries, murders and so on.

The fact, that drugs were illegal, unfortunately could not restrict the actual sale and distribution, on the contrary this field of criminal activity was able to bring such high profits and the system was so well-built, that drugs became integrated into the American culture.

There appeared certain layers of society, where the high cost could not be an obstacle and drugs were used as a type of recreational activity. Irrespective of constant attempts to seize control over this problem by the authorities, it is still remaining actual for the USA as well as other countries all over the world. The 1940s brought prohibition of opiates, the 1960s � of marijuana and the 1970s � of heroin, however cocaine and other drugs continued to arrive to the U.S. through the Mexican border.

The results were that first of all the number of drug-addicted people constantly grew and secondly, illegal drugs' trade proved to be a business of very high profits and in fact a lot of businessmen invested exactly into this industry. Political impact, which illegal drug trade had, could not be underestimated as well.

The government was taking specific steps in order to restrict drug trafficking and trade, but with poor results. Marijuana was imported from the Latin America, whereas cocaine was received from Mexico and Colombia.

Heroin is another wide-spread illegal drug, initially cultivated in the Golden Triangle � Southeast Asia. In addition, opiate was transported from Afghanistan and Mexico.

Drug Trafficking in India:

For the last three decades India has become a transit hub as well as a destination for heroin and hashish produced in the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent. In addition, various psychotropic and pharmaceutical preparations and precursor chemicals produced domestically as well as in various parts of the world are also trafficked through Indian territory. The two-way illegal flow of these drugs and chemicals not only violates India's borders, but also poses a significant threat to national security.

The nexus between drug traffickers, organised criminal networks and terrorists has created a force powerful enough to cause instability in the country. Money generated through drug trade has been used to fund various insurgent and terrorist movements. For instance, it has been estimated that money generated from the illegal sale of narcotics accounted for 15 per cent of the finances of militant groups in Jammu and Kashmir.

Besides, criminal syndicates engaged in drug trafficking like the Dawood Ibrahim gang have themselves resorted to terrorist acts in the past (the 1993 terrorist attacks in Mumbai) or have become deeplyengaged in the business/logistics end of terrorism.

Further, drug trafficking facilitates other organised criminal enterprises such as human trafficking and gun running, all of which use the same networks and routes to smuggle people, arms and contraband. To cite an example, the explosives used in the 1993 Mumbai terrorist attacks were smuggled into India using the same routes through which drugs and other contraband items were trafficked by the Dawood gang. Even today, terrorist groups use these routes to source weapons and explosives across the borders.

India has been a traditional consumer of opium and various cannabis derivatives (bhang, marijuana/ganja and hashish). These narcotics were mostly consumed for medicinal purposes, for recreation or during religious and social ceremonies. Earlier, almost all the demands for these drugs were met locally. Only a small quantity of hashish was smuggled in from Nepal and Pakistan.

Since the country had a long tradition of narcotics consumption, although at low levels, the smuggling of hashish from across the borders, which was in any case far too less a quantity, did not evince any alarm.

However, in the early 1980s, in the wake of the inflow of heroin, which has widespread and disastrous consequences, drug trafficking became an issue of concern. In subsequent years, the large scale availability of synthetic and medicinal drugs and their abuse have added new dimensions to the concerns about drug trafficking.

The global pattern of the flow of illegal drugs reveals that of all drugs, heroin and cocaine are trafficked for long distances; hashish is smuggled for relatively shorter distances; and marijuana/ganja and psychotropic substances like Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS), which are consumed locally travel the shortest distance.

Nearly 70% of these narcotics and drugs are trafficked over land using various modes of transportation making the country's borders the first point of contact for drug trafficking. As regards India, dependingupon the nature of the border and its milieu as well as the production, demand and supply of drugs, different borders display different trafficking patterns as follows:
  1. India-Pakistan border: The proximity of the India-Pakistan border to the Golden Crescent', the largest producer of opium and cannabis in the world, has made it vulnerable to the trafficking of heroin and hashish.
  2. India-Nepal border: Hashish and marijuana/ganja are the two cannabis derivatives that have been traditionally trafficked from Nepal into India. Lately, a growing demand for Nepalese and Bhutanese cannabis in India and a corresponding demand for codeine based pharmaceutical preparations as well as low-grade heroin in Nepal and Bhutan have resulted in two way smuggling of narcotics and drugs through the India-Nepal and India-Bhutan borders.
  3. India-Myanmar border: Proximity of the India-Myanmar border to the Golden Triangle', growing demand for drugs among the local population in the North eastern states, political instability and insecurity brought about by numerous insurgencies in the region as well as a porous and poorly guarded border provided a proliferating environment for traffickers to smuggle heroin and psychotropic substances into the country through the India-Myanmar border.
  4. India-Bangladesh border: The India-Bangladesh border has been susceptible to smuggling of various kinds of drugs ranging from heroin, marijuana/ganja, hashish, brown sugar, cough syrups, etc. High demand for codeine based cough syrups in Bangladesh, a highly porous border, dense settlement along the border, and strong trans-border ethnic ties contribute towards drug trafficking along the India-Bangladesh border.

Protecting the borders against violations by either traffickers or terrorists becomes critical. At the same time, reducing the demand for drugs in domestic markets is also essential. Towards this end, India has adopted a comprehensive approach of reducing supply as well as demand for narcotics and drugs.

The approach comprises four elements:
  1. first, enacting legislation;
  2. second, ensuring physical security of the borders and coasts;
  3. third, eliciting cooperation from neighbours and;
  4. fourth, co-operating with voluntary organizations in the national endeavour to prevent abuse of narcotics and synthetic drugs.

In India, the NDPS Act 1985 controls drug abuse and drug trafficking. Under this act, cultivation, manufacturing, transportation, export and import of all narcotics drugs and psychotropic substances is prohibited except for medicinal and scientific purposes and as authorized by the government. The Act provides for rigorous punishment for any person violating this act and if a person is caught peddling drugs for the second time, death penalty could be awarded to the offender. The act also provides for the detention of any person for more than two years in areas categorised by it as highly vulnerable.

The NDPS Act also provides for forfeiture of property acquired through illicit trafficking of drugs.In addition, the government of India has also enacted the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in 1988, which allows detention of persons suspected to be involved in illicit trafficking of drugs.Besides, a few sections of the Customs Act of 1962 are implemented for curbing the illicit export of precursor chemicals.

The enactment of various legislations has indeed provided the government with the means to achieve the twin goals of reduction in drug supply and demand. However effective implementation of the laws has to be ensured by the executing authority so as to not let the law be a mere theory.

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