Illegal medicines becoming bigger in drug smuggling trade

March 5th, 2008 - 7:28 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 5 (IANS) The quantity of heroin smuggled into India from Pakistan keeps going up, while there is a growing menace in the illegal drug trade - pharmaceuticals meant for abuse are being smuggled from India to all other South Asian countries in increasing quantities, said a UN report released here Wednesday. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said in its 2007 report that international drug trafficking syndicates, mostly organised gangs from West African countries, have been using India as a major transit country for Europe-bound drug consignments and also as a destination country.

“Law enforcement agencies in the north-western parts of India are seizing ever increasing quantities of heroin originating in Afghanistan and coming via Pakistan en route to Europe,” said Rajiv Walia, project coordinator in the Regional Office for South Asia of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Providing the regional highlights of the report, Walia also said: “South Asia is being targeted for cocaine trafficking, with West African gangs bringing it here and exchanging it for heroin that they smuggle into Europe”.

The report said that cocaine abuse was increasing in India, a contention contested by the director of the country’s Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), R.K. Verma, who said: “I think there are some inaccuracies in the report”.

Verma was the chief guest at the report release function.

But both Verma and UNODC representative in South Asia Gary Lewis agreed that the smuggling of illicitly manufactured pharmaceutical preparations, such as codeine-based syrups, benzodiazepines and buprenorphine, from India to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka is cause for major concern.

These countries are sometimes used for smuggling these illicit medicines to Europe and North America too. In February 2007, a parcel containing 550 kg of ephedrine was seized from a Bangladeshi courier company; the parcel was destined for Canada.

Walia said drug traffickers were increasingly misusing courier companies to smuggle illicit drugs. In July 2007, NCB intercepted two parcels containing more than a kg of heroin in a courier company office here; one parcel was destined for Canada and the other for South Africa.

“Internationally controlled pharmaceutical preparations manufactured locally in India are also increasingly being diverted to some European countries and the United States,” the report said.

INCB called upon the Indian government “to reinforce its control over the national and international trade in psychotropic substances”.

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