The increase was more than 300% since the pre-pandemic year of 2019, which saw 1,260 arrests.
The value of seized banned substances — ganja, brown sugar, opium, hashish, hashish oil, synthetic drugs (cocaine and others), MDMA & MDs, ecstasy, yaba and LSD paper — saw an increase of almost 149%, up from around Rs 21 crore in 2020 to over Rs 53 crore in 2021. Compared to 2019 (Rs 3.5 crore), the jump was over 1,400%.
In these three years, police arrested more than 10,000 people in 7,651 cases involving nearly 8,500kg of drugs. According to official data, cops arrested 1,260 people and seized 1,053kg of drugs in 768 cases reported in 2019. In 2020, they nabbed 3,673 and seized 3,912kg of drugs in 2,766 cases, while in 2021, they apprehended 5,208 people and seized 3,512kg of the contraband in 4,117 cases registered till December 14.
Sources said the actual quantity of drugs seized so far this year is 400kg lower than the quantum in 2020, but their value is considerably higher with more high-priced items such as synthetic drugs and MDMA being seized.
As per police data, there were no cases involving hashish oil in 2019. But there were four in 2020 with 9.3kg of the oil worth Rs 1.5 crore seized, while in 2021, 14 cases were registered and nearly 42kg worth over Rs 13 crore seized.
Catching customers first
“We have given top priority to curbing drug menace in the city. We’ve adopted the policy of nabbing consumers first and using information provided by them to get to the sellers. It helps us catch more drug peddlers,” Kamal Pant, police commissioner, said.
According to an officer from the narcotics wing of Central Crime Branch, peddlers purchase drugs using the darknet and get them delivered through courier, while the payment is done through cryptocurrency transactions. The sellers pack drugs in food covers and supply them to customers in the disguise of food-delivery boys.
In 2020, a few high-profile cases were reported, including a case in Cottonpet police station in which actresses, event organisers and politicians’ relatives were arrested. The alleged hacker Srikrishna Ramesh alias Sriki and his gang were among those nabbed in 2020 on drug-peddling charges. Kannada film producer Shankar Gowda was arrested for allegedly peddling drugs in 2021.