Nigeria. The very name intoxicates the youths of upmarket Hyderabad. Drugs of numerous kinds are finding their way into the nerves of the city. Nigerians are coming into the city in the garb of students and indulging in drug peddling, sex racket and varied other crimes. Earlier rich and affluent people were only aware of weed (ganja), as it was readily available in the market at very cheap rates. But thanks to Africans who introduced several new narcotic drugs to Hyderabad an array of options opened up to choose from.
Stephen Ravindra, deputy commissioner of police of west zone, along with his team, tried to flush out the illegal sale of ganja from the city. He stumbled upon some other narcotic substances being sold in the market. Until July 22, 2010, the team, which only managed to arrest those accused of supplying Ganja, caught a cocaine peddler for a second time.
The Central Crime Station (CCS) of the city for the very first time arrested a drug peddler in April 2010 in Delhi. Since then, the city police busted 15 cocaine gangs, nabbed 27 peddlers, including 17 Africans and 22 Indians (customers/peddlers).
Nigerians are not only accused of supplying drugs but also involved in various organised crimes including prostitution, assaulting the police, credit card cloning and the infamous Nigerian Fraud, also called as the 419 scam (equivalent of 420 Cr PC).
About 95 per cent of Africans charged with various crimes are Nigerians and a mere two per cent are from Uganda, Somalia and Sudan. There are nearly 4,500 Africans living in the city.
Why Nigerians turns into Drug peddlers?
It is known that coca is extensively grown in South America, though it is not sold anywhere there as the law strictly prohibits the sale of narcotic drugs. It is shipped to Nigeria, the global hub of drugs.
Nigerians stash money and buy cocaine in large quantities at low prices and smuggle them to other nations.
How do they come to India and where do they stay in the city?
About 60 per cent of the population coming from Africa to India possess student visas, while a 35 per cent come on business visas. Mostly, they stay closer by and on the outskirts like Yapral, Sainikpuri, Vayupuri, Alwal and Vikrampuri areas since these localities are close to their colleges and the rents over there are very less.
How do they smuggle drugs from Nigeria?
About 70 per cent of the drugs are smuggled through the waterways and 25 per cent through airways and the remaining five per cent by different other methods like courier service, books, portraits etc. These drugs are initially smuggled to ports (main hubs like Mumbai, Goa and Kerala) and then change hands, reach internal or secondary hubs like Hyderabad, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune.
How do they establish relations/links with main drug dealers/customers – How do they function?
Agents facilitating the drugs in the city, under the cover of students, approach the main drug dealers in Mumbai and Goa (main hubs) and get them for a wholesale price. They sell the same drugs at a very high price as per demand in the city.
They have an interesting code language to communicate for identification purpose.
Do they fear police?
No. For instance, a few Nigerians attacked a car driver in a drunken condition last year. When the car driver called up Punjagutta police station, two constables went to the scene and tied to take them into custody, but they retaliated. However, another police party went there and nabbed the offenders.
A few hours later about 10 people of their community barged into the police station and tried to attack officials on duty.
Of the 30 Nigerians picked up by the west zone police for interrogation, only two blurted out their names. The rest remained tight-lipped.
“They make sachets of 0.7 grams and sell them as 1-gram packs. Buyers too don’t pay attention, fearing the police vigil on them, according to Stephen Ravindra.
According Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, possession of up to two grams of narcotics attracts a punishment of only six months of rigorous imprisonment or a fine up to Rs 10,000 or both. While 10 years jail and Rs 1 lakh fine is imposed on those found in possession of above two grams and below 100 grams.
Indian law soft on peddlers
Indian law is soft to such criminals.
City police aver that the government should come up with some policy to deport the drug dealers. As of now, courts order the seizure of passports of the offenders and wouldn’t return them till the case is finalised, which generally takes a minimum of five to 10 years.
The accused are taking this as an advantage and are staying put in India without any hassle of visa extension or another legal formalities. This is, indirectly, helping them take to the business once they are out on bail.
“I recently met Cheema Clayton, a drug dealer who was arrested while supplying cocaine and asked him why he didn’t go back to his country. I was shocked to hear when he said, ‘sir how can I go back to my country when my passport is with the court. The government should send us back.’ In fact, when we caught him he had no Visa with him,” said an SI attached to the DCP’s team.
The government doesn’t even deport them because it has to shell out a lot of money to send them away,” he added.
If a person is caught with drugs in the West, he would be jailed and later deported.