Police struggle as drug peddlers move from streets to social media

Drug peddling has become more digitised than ever,” said an intelligence officer

Picture: Pixabay

KOCHI: Despite  the restrictions imposed by the state government in the wake of a resurgence of C-19 cases, drug peddling seems to be thriving in the district. 

After the lockdown placed curbs on traditional options such as clubs, parties and even street corners, peddlers have turned to social media to explore the opportunities it offers for the safe trade of street drugs like ganja, hashish and LSD, say officials with the excise intelligence wing.

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Drug peddling has become more digitised than ever,” said an intelligence officer. Two years ago, the police had undertaken an operation and busted a racket that used social media platforms to distribute banned drugs.

Syringe drug medicine Medical
Picture: Pixabay

The drive, however, lost its steam over the course of time. “The use of social media for drug supply is a major challenge. The department is taking all necessary steps to keep a check on the same,” said Excise Deputy Commissioner P Ashok Kumar

However, online drug trade is hard to detect, say officials. “Orders for small quantities of drugs are placed through coded messages. The administrators add members only after thorough verification including physical background checks.

The theme and discussions in the groups will also generally be on varied subjects to mask its real purpose of drug trafficking,” said an officer.

Kochi range Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar said it was technically possible for the police to track activities of drug rackets that use social media platforms for trafficking.  

But it’s not going to be an easy task, said Manu P Zacharia, cyber security expert and member of Data Security Council of India. “Machines can only be set to identify and track specific keywords. Rackets generally do not use keywords related to drugs while exchanging messages.

Only if the agencies get a specific input can they scan the social media space for such activities,” he said.

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