India an Emerging Hub of International Drug Trafficking

NEW DELHI -- The recent seizure here of massive shipments of illegal Ephedrine and the highly addictive sedative Mandrax, as well as the June capture in Mumbai of a container packed with some $100 million worth of cocaine, spotlights the rise of illicit drug abuse and the burgeoning drug trade in South Asia -- especially in India.

Over the past year and a half alone, authorities say an estimated 216 kilograms of cocaine, more than 600 kilos of Ephedrine, 247 kilos of heroin and 4,400 kilos of Mandrax have been seized in India, the major portion captured in New Delhi and Mumbai. These two cities along with India's Information Technology center, Bangalore, are the hub of India's international drug trade, acting as major transit points for narcotics smuggling into the rest of Southeast Asia, Africa and North America.

However, citing India's own emerging black market for such pricy drugs as Ecstasy, Cocaine and Heroin, Indian counter-narcotics officials as well as international authorities have begun to believe that many of the drugs being seized are actually destined for points inside the country. Gary Lewis, the South Asia representative of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, put it simply in the Sept. 17 edition of New Delhi's Financial Express, saying officials "are not convinced that these were random shipments seized in transit through India and destined for somewhere else."

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