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The issue of narcotics trade

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Security Challenges and their Management in Border Areas – Linkages of Organized Crime with Terrorism


Source: IE

 Context: The issue of narcotics trade has kept security agencies and law enforcement agencies on the tenterhooks.



  • Legally speaking, the term “narcotic” has negative connotations – narcotic drugs (such as heroin) are totally prohibited.
  • In the medical community, the term refers to any psychoactive compound (like morphine) with numbing or paralysing properties.
  • The narcotics trade, which is assuming dangerous proportions all over the world, is a social problem that harms youth and families.
  • The money it generates is diverted for disruptive activities that have bearings on national security.


India is no exception:

  • As India has been sandwiched between the Death (Golden) Crescent and Death (Golden) Triangle, it is being flooded with drugs, especially heroin and methamphetamine.
  • Nearly 90% of the world’s demand for these drugs is being met from these two regions and India is both a big market and a transit route for other countries.


Challenges for India:

  • National security challenges:
    • The connection of drug traffickers from across borders with terrorist organisations → illegal money is used for terror activities.
    • India has emerged as a hot destination for cocaine, the supply of which is controlled by South American drug cartels, which have links with local drug lords, gangsters and Khalistani terrorists.
  • Porous borders: These are under the control of terrorist/rebel groups, indirectly supported by Pakistan and China.
  • The maritime route: Has also become very active.
  • The use of drones: To supply drugs and weapons across the border in Punjab is a new phenomenon and law enforcement agencies are working to neutralise this.
  • Anonymity: 62% of the darknet is being used for illicit drug trafficking. Cryptocurrency payments and doorstep deliveries have made darknet transactions attractive.


Measures taken by the government:


Achievements of Indian agencies:

  • The Indian Coast Guard (ICG), in conjunction with the intelligence agencies, has been making big seizures frequently.
  • The Narcotics Control Bureau busted an organised racket of darknet vendors and arrested several Indian nationals and their international counterparts were exposed for the first time.
  • Operation “Gear Box” was started by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to combat the smuggling of heroin by detecting the hidden drugs in the gear boxes.


Way ahead:

  • Concerted and coordinated efforts of all the agencies will be required to tackle this growing threat.
  • Technical surveillance followed by basic policing methods will lead to the seizure of large consignments of drugs and the arrest of the gang.
  • The nexus between terrorists and organised gangs/underworld is a new and disturbing trend, which has to be tackled effectively by security agencies.


Insta Links:

Kerala has a drug problem: 300% jump in cases over six years; arrests increase 90%


Mains Links:

India’s proximity to two of the world’s biggest illicit opium-growing states has enhanced her internal security concerns. Explain the linkages between drug trafficking and other illicit activities such as gunrunning, money laundering and human trafficking. What countermeasures should be taken to prevent the same? (UPSC 2018)