06 September 2010
By A Selvaraj
The city, it appears, is becoming a transit point for the smuggling of raw material for party drugs, particularly Amphetamine–Type Stimulant (ATS), to South–East Asia. Three persons, including a Malaysian national, who were arrested here on Friday last with 300 kg of Ephedrine, told Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officials that they had exported similar consignments to Malaysia at least five times in the recent past.
In June, directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) officials on a tip–off nabbed a man from Coimbatore near Koyambedu. "Based on the information provided by him, we raided a medical shop in Aminjikarai owned by Sikkar Chand and seized 25 kg of Ephedrine. We also arrested five persons, including Chand. In July, a man from Hyderabad was arrested for the possession of 30 kg of Ephedrine. The accused told us they had been in the racket for quite some time and had been smuggling the chemical to China through the Phillipines," a DRI official told TOI.
Ephedrine, a chemical, is used to prepare medicines for treatment of asthma. The white crystalline powder is used in Malaysia and Indonesia as a primary raw material for preparing ATS. The ATS, called ‘Yaba’ in Malaysia, is a popular party drug in China, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia as well as in Australia, NCB sources said.
"The ATS is becoming familiar in Chennai pubs. In India, individuals cannot possess Ephedrine without proper permission. However, smugglers have been procuring it for Rs 1 lakh a kg. When it reachs Malaysia, the rate increases to Rs 3 lakh a kg. Soon, after it becomes ATS, the cost soars to almost Rs 20 lakh a kg in the international market. With more smugglers using Chennai as a transit point, the enforcement agencies are devising new methods to counter them," a senior NCB official said.
- 2007: One arrested for smuggling 100 kg of Ephedrine
- June 2010: DRI arrested five persons, including a medical shop owner in Aminjikarai, and recovered 25 kg of Ephedrine
- July 2010: A man from Hyderabad was arrested in the city and 30 kg of Ephedrine was seized