Tech-savvy professionals among 22 arrested in dark web narcotics operation: NCB

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Four files were filed and 17 seizures made, said the anti-drug agency. (Representative)

New Delhi:

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has arrested 22 people, including software engineers, a financial analyst, an MBA graduate and one of its own employees, as it dismantled a pan-India drug trafficking ring. drug that uses the “darknet” and cryptocurrency to send narcotics. at home.

Federal Narcotics Agency uncovered three major drug markets – DNM India, Dread and The Orient Express – operating on the hidden world of the web after a four-month operation in Delhi-NCR, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka , Assam, Punjab, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Rajasthan.

Four cases have been filed in the case and 17 seizures have been made during the nationwide operation, officials said.

Recreational drugs were sourced from countries including the US, UK, Netherlands and Poland using courier services as well as the India Post network, the Deputy Director General of the Narcotics Control Bureau said for the northern region, Gyaneshwar Singh, during a press conference.

“The network was disrupted after a long operation which was launched after a drug parcel was intercepted by us in Kolkata,” Mr Singh said.

“Our special investigation team that conducts cyber patrols to verify darknet usage has taken down three major networks operating in the country using the darknet, anonymous cryptocurrency transactions and pseudonymous social media profiles,” Mr. Singh added.

The darknet refers to hidden Internet platforms that can only be accessed using specialized software and pre-configured communication protocols for anonymous communication.

Drug cartels and syndicates have been known to use it to stay under the radar of law enforcement.

Mr Singh said the use of courier packages for delivering medicine has increased following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

22 people, including four women, have been arrested and are in custody. One person has been granted bail to attend an exam, Singh said.

The defendants are in the age group of 20-35 years. They include engineers, software experts, a doctor, financial consultants, businessmen, an MBA, a musician, and a few school dropouts. Some engaged in these illegal activities as young as 13 or 14 years old, the officer said.

Raghunath, aka ‘LSD King’, being held at Bellary Jail in Uttar Pradesh was also among those arrested, he added.

NCB Area Unit in Delhi seized 975 blots of LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), 130 grams of psychotropic tablets, 6 grams of heroin, cannabis paste and liquid, 1.6g of cocaine, 16 tablets of ‘Alprazolam, 315.8 grams of charas, 171 grams of hashish chocolate, a dozen capsules of Spasomoproxyvon and 7.9 kg of imported ganja.

Rs 22.5 lakh cash was seized. Crypto revenue worth Rs two crore generated from this illegal trade has been detected but could not be seized so far, Singh said.

The NCB, in a statement, said: “Almost all (those arrested) are highly educated, tech savvy, have experienced the thrill of dodging the police or NCB, have had troubled childhoods or family issues and have been heavily influenced by Western culture.”

Easy money, the fame of becoming popular on virtual platforms has also attracted these youngsters, Singh said. “The shortcomings in the courier and postal system made it so easy for traffickers to deliver the drugs to homes. In most cases, parents or other family members of those involved did not understand what was going on. passed.”

“Names of known courier services were being misused to send narcotics in neatly packed boxes containing items like toys, stationery or daily use goods,” the officer added.

He added that a BCN agent had also been arrested for allegedly “colluding” with a defendant and destroying his mobile phone.

This mobile phone was recovered by the agency with the help of NDRF divers from a pond in Kolkata, another NCB officer said.

The Federal Narcotics Agency said the defendants were adept at using the “darknet” and its apps for narcotics transactions. Also, apps like Wickr, Tor Browser, Telegram, Instagram were used by them.

“Some phones have been customized to allow a user to hide the IP (internet protocol) address,” Singh said, adding that payments were made via Paytm wallet, cryptocurrency, UPI transfer and some other modes.

Some of the pseudonyms used by the defendants included identities such as @thekalyuga, @thanos, @thebansky, @masalacoke and @chico.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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