Drugs, again


While the country was under lockdown 2.0, and everyone and every sector of activity had to make changes in how to conduct their activities, it seems that in one sector at least things didn’t change: it is business as usual in the world of drug trafficking. We do not have to go by only the latest drug haul that was unearthed by the Anti-Drug and Smuggling Unit at Pointe-aux-Cannoniers, for there is no before and after in that domain. Periodic drug seizures have continued to take place, and lockdown 1.0 did not have any different impact on the drug trafficking business.

It is true that other societal mishaps continue unabated too – fatal road accidents, thefts of all types, frauds and corruptions, sexual violence and murders – but the drug crimes are unique in that they involve ever larger and  mind-boggling sums of money. It is no longer millions or tens of millions. Not even hundreds – now it is about billions of rupees. Rs 3 billion is the estimate for the latest catch.

Whereas synthetic drugs have taken the country by storm over the past few years, targeting youth and infiltrating schools, the latest consignment would indicate that there is no shift in the landscape for consumption of the hard drugs, especially heroin which made up the lot at Pointe-aux-Cannoniers. There is still a clientele, judging by the amount seized. Ranging from the highest and most moneyed – rave parties – to those who have to beg, borrow or steal to procure the substance, creating social havoc, destroying families.

Whereas synthetic drugs have spread fast in particular because they are relatively easy to produce, with common chemicals that are readily available, and thus they are cheaper though more dangerous in terms of their effects – which have included deaths – heroin is of course the most expensive drug.

The question that naturally arises therefore is where does all this money come from to import drugs to the scale of billions of rupees? Those who are caught are clearly the small fries in the supply and distribution chain. The real issue is the source of such moneys. Investigative authorities must have their own methodologies to go about seeking the culprits, but this is clearly a herculean task that may get stuck on many reefs that they can make any headway. The network of all those engaged in the supply is likely to be vast and spread across countries and regions. 

Getting to the root of the matter is definitely walking into tiger territory, and and that is why it must be done within a legal framework that of necessity has international dimensions. A good way to continue would be to follow up on the recommendations of the Lam Shang Leen Commission Report. After all, in reply to a question from the Opposition at the time that the Report was made officially available, it was stated that a taskforce was to be set up to consider the implementation of the recommendations. Seeking clarification about where that taskforce has reached may begin to provide answers. In truth, though, will we ever get them! That is the worry. Meanwhile, the drug pandemic too will go on unabated.

* Published in print edition on 4 May 2021

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