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On a new high: Cocaine inside flavoured paan

Thursday, 19 December 2013 - 7:34am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Junkies hoodwink cops by using betel leaves to cover their daily dose, and the trend is catching on.

Cocaine is among the most popular high-end drugs in the city, used by people from the higher echelons of the society. While the Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC) has seized 1.1kg of cocaine from January to October 2013, the amount seized is only expected to go higher in the next few days, with Christmas and New Year celebrations around the corner.

The most popular methods of cocaine consumption have always been via snorting, injecting and smoking. However, it has been observed that people in the city are also resorting to newer methods, such as mixing the drug inside paan (betel leaf) and consuming it with other flavoured ingredients inside the leaf. While officials haven’t caught the consumers who resort to this method red-handed, interrogations have revealed that tambaaku paan, masala and sweet paan are being used by drug addicts to mix cocaine and consume.

Senior inspector of ANC’s Worli unit Rajendra Sangle said, “Paan culture being very popular in the city, drug addicts resort to buying different types of paan in bulk and then putting a few milligrams of cocaine inside each leaf and consume it in parties or while travelling. They even mix it with gutkha, rajnigandha and other flavoured masalas and pop it. While for some it is habitual, for others it is just a different way of feeling the high. The high that people get by doing this is slow when compared to smoking or snorting.”

Sangle added that most cocaine users are in the age group of 22 to 30 and come from rich and varied backgrounds.

Asmita Bhosle, senior inspector of the Kandivli ANC unit said, “Cocaine users are very hard to crack as they organise secret parties and get-togethers. They are usually corporates, businessmen and actors. Mixing cocaine in flavoured paans is just another way of feeling the high.”

A gram of cocaine costs anywhere between Rs4,000 and Rs6,000. According to officials, for drug addicts, it’s all about their habits and finding innovative methods of consumption, which don’t easily catch the attention of the police.

As Vijay Belge, senior inspector of ANC’s Ghatkopar unit, said, “Interrogations with consumers and peddlers have revealed that people buy paan in bulk and then mix cocaine. I have also heard of cases where people mix the drug in aerated drinks. Our vigilance is strict, but it is difficult to catch such acts red-handed.”

Cocaine seizure till October  2013
32 cases       
42 arrests
1.1kg seized worth Rs70.49 L

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