Wedged between the Golden Crescent and the Golden Triangle, India has traditionally been vulnerable to opiates both as a destination and as a transit route. Not surprisingly 22,700 cases were registered across the country under the Narcotics Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act in 2020. And this despite the pandemic having hit drug trafficking hard, and the lockdowns.

The Golden Crescent, that over-laps Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan on the west and the Golden Triangle in the east consisting of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand continue to produce 90% of the world’s illicit opium. “Drug trafficking relies heavily on legal trade to camouflage its activities and on individuals being able to distribute drugs to consumers. The measures taken by governments to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic affected all aspects of the illegal drug markets, from production and trafficking of drugs to their consumption,” states the latest report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Referring to the failure to trace the addressee to whom the talcum consignment was to be delivered, officials from the Intelligence Bureau and anti-narcotic agencies say, “If such big quantities clear the port area, the consignment would normally be quickly broken down into smaller parcels at the closest possible place before being transported to avoid detection. It’s highly unlikely that the entire consignment would be transported to the final destination.”

The Afghan Opiate Trade Project (AOTP) of the United Nations in its 2020 report states that a courier is paid as much as US $2 per gram or $2,000 (Rs 1.5 lakh) per kilogram to smuggle heroin into India.