The Special Task Force, the specialized investigation wing of Odisha police, has made a seizure of around Rs 122 crore worth of banned narcotic drugs in the last 20 months in a series of crackdowns on drug peddling in the State, a senior STF official said on Monday.
While brown sugar also called heroin valued at Rs 38 crore was confiscated, Rs 84 crore worth of cannabis were also seized, taking the cumulative cost of the seized contraband to a whopping Rs 122 crore. Over 100 drug peddlers were put behind bars in the last 20 months.
The cumulative seizure of brown sugar has jumped to 38 kilograms valued at around Rs 38 crore since 2020 with over 3.6 KGs of contraband confiscated in the past 72 hours in separate raids.
While contraband worth Rs 2.4 crore was seized on Monday at Jaleswar in Balasore district and three suspected drug peddlers were arrested, equal numbers of drug peddlers possessing 1.265 kilograms of brown sugar (valued at Rs 1.2 crore) were nabbed near Khordha bus stand on Saturday, the officials said.
The STF is continuing its well-orchestrated operation on drug peddlers across the State. And the ongoing crackdown on drug peddling is paying rich dividends. In the past 20 months, the STF has seized 38 kilograms of brown sugar. The seized narcotics would have fetched the drug peddlers nearly Rs 40 crore in the international market, said Deputy Inspector General of Police, STF, Jay Narayan Pankaj.
The increased crackdown on drug peddlers could be gauged from the fact that the cumulative seizure of brown sugar in the past 20 months is more than three-fold that of the drug haul of the past eight years.
The banned substances are making their way to Odisha from Murshidabad in West Bengal. Balasore district bordering Bengal has become the gateway to drug peddling networks in the State. The source point of the brown sugar trade in the State owes its origin to Murshidabad. The organized rackets of drug peddlers based in Balasore have spread their network to major urban centres- Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Rourkela, Sambalpur and Puri- of the State, STF officials concluded.
While in 2017, 304 quintals of cannabis locally called ganja were seized, 2018 year saw the seizure of 523 quintals. There was a seizure of 618 quintals in 2019, while 1,549 quintals were seized from drug peddlers in 2020. The interceptions were made both by the STF and police wing.
It’s a major achievement on part of the police. The cannabis seizure has gone up many folds in recent years. The average seizure in the past five years stood at 414 quintals, while the cannabis interception has gone up four-fold in the last 20 months.
Eight districts- Kandhamal, Boudh, Deogarh, Sambalpur, Rayagada, Gajapati, Malkangiri and Nayagarh- are widely regarded as the epicenter of hemp cultivation.
Odisha is a producing State of cannabis locally called ganja. It is routed through Odisha by organized drug syndicates as the produce from Odisha is much in demand in other States because its price is on the lower side.