The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has reportedly busted an international criminal gang that dealt in drugs using DarkNet and cryptocurrency with linkages in several countries as well as multiple states in India, according to sources. The gang had linkages in the United States, Netherlands, and Canada, and in states of West Bengal, Gujarat, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Assam. It was busted in an operation that detected and dismantled the drug market on the Darknet and on social media run by anonymous and professional traffickers, and a home delivery network.
The modus operandi of the drug traffickers included the use of Darknet, cryptocurrency, digital media, UPIs, fake KYC documents, as well as post and courier services. Consequent to strategic and operational planning, during the operation spanning over 11 months, 47 cases were registered, 40 people were arrested, and a variety of drugs and cash seized by the NCB in 2021-22.
The coordination with foreign drug liaison officers and excellent coordination among various zonal units of the NCB and state police forces for simultaneous operations were the highlights of the operation. National Disaster Response Force divers were also used for retrieving crucial evidence from deep waters.
For effective investigation, three NCB officers were awarded the Union Home Minister’s Medal for Investigation, the sources added.
In Ludhiana, the NCB has also busted a "basket" case having international drug racket links in Dubai, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Seventeen people were arrested, including kingpins, traffickers, white-collar criminals, two Afghan heroin processing experts, and members of the alleged Jaggu Bhagwan Puria gang. The seizure in the case included about 34.5 kg of heroin, 5.5 kg morphine, 0.6 kg opium, 23.6 kg narcotics powder, acetic anhydride, bullets, and magazines. Two heroin processing labs were also busted, the sources said.
Three different modes of smuggling of heroin, including the sea route through Mundra port, land route through Attari-Wagah border, and the international border, were used by this syndicate.
The NCB's financial investigation has also identified Hawala network money payment channels and a group of companies involved in it. The identified assets include 45 properties, many front businesses, including liquor brands, real estate, pubs and restaurants, and 190 bank accounts. So far, the NCB has recovered about INR 4 crore drug money. It has also frozen 35 properties, 24 bank accounts worth INR 32 crore. The NCB is looking at freezing at least INR 50 crore worth of assets, the sources said.