In all 16 cases of banned narcotics busted by the Directorate of Intelligence (DRI) Mumbai, in the past three years, a common thread found was a 'courier' sent through a little-known courier company.
Experts in the industry claim that there is no active mechanism to check the lakhs of couriers that go from India to various countries everyday. Surprisingly, most of these courier companies manage their accounts manually, because of which the customs department has no access or control over their data.
For the past six years, the agencies dealing with cases of narcotics investigations have been pushing for the implementation of Electronic Data Interchange system, which will make all the entries automated and help bring the drug menace down by at least 60 %. However, the proposal is stuck in technicalities like risk management of implementing an automated system that has been devised by a private company.
Sources in DRI say the implementation of the automated system will prevent duplication of entries – which was being found to be a common practice in peddling of drugs through couriers. Also, an automated system would make more man power and time available for an extensive scrutiny of the parcels. "It will also be easier for the investigating agencies to pick up trends, patterns of habitual offenders through scanning of data, if available centrally," said a senior officer. DRI sources also revealed that most of these couriers are sent to south Asian and European countries.
Custom officials, however, feel automation would play a small role in curbing the drug menace. "Drugs being send via courier is not just an Indian phenomenon. World over, there is an increasing trend of drugs being supplied through courier. We are aware of it and are taking measures to curb the menace," said Milind Lanjewar, additional commissioner, customs, Air Intelligence Unit.
Lanejwar claim that the department is in the process of getting three more sniffer dogs to identify the suspicious parcels. At present, the Mumbai customs office has five sniffer dogs to do so.
There are 200 courier companies registered with the customs department here in Mumbai. Sources claim that in the past one year, licences of 12 companies were suspended for irregularities in services.