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Tirupur's cocaine connection

The low-profile hosiery export town with a large foreign work force, is suspected to be the supply hub of cocaine to Chennai, Bengaluru and Kochi.

Tirupurs cocaine connection
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Chennai

A couple of days ago, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officials intercepted two Nigerian women, who had flown to Coimbatore from Bolivia, after they received information that the duo was carrying cocaine and they were on their way to Tirupur. However, NCB officials could not find the contraband on them, despite a thorough search. 

Highly-placed sources in NCB said that two other Nigerian nationals flying in from Bolivia had been picked up from a hotel in Mumbai by an NCB team. It seized the cocaine they had smuggled in and also passed on the information that two of the four-member gang was headed to Tirupur. NCB officials believe that the women could have dumped the consignment after they learnt of the arrest of their partners. 

Officials also confirmed that Tirupur, a small town near Coimbatore famous for its hosiery exports, is fast becoming the cocaine distribution centre. “The latest hotspot of cocaine smuggling to South India is Tirupur. Smugglers prefer the town as it has a low profile and has a big population of foreigners. It is also centrally located, with equal access to Chennai, Bengaluru and Kochi,” a senior NCB official said. 

Bolivian connection 

The African-origin cartel is suspected to be the main operatives that concentrates in Tirupur. However, NCB does not rule out the possibility of the dreaded Latin American cocaine-pushers being active in Tirupur. “The Bolivian connection points towards that possibility. We are working on identifying the route through which the drug is landing in Tirupur,” the official added. 

Once the cocaine consignment is brought to Tirupur through various air routes from Latin America, it is despatched to Chennai, Bengaluru and Kochi in smaller quantities by road. NCB has information regarding many high-end rave parties, that are being regularly conducted in these cities. 

“Earlier, the drug used to come directly to Chennai, Bengaluru and Kochi airports. But when the enforcement agencies increased their vigil against such cartels in these airports, they opted for smaller airports like Coimbatore,” the official added.

Tracking the kingpins 

Tirupur has a large floating population of foreigners. “There is a steady arrival of foreigners to Tirupur due to its hosiery export business and we have to be very careful before intercepting any of the visitors. We are extra-courteous even when we operate on specific information and ensure we do nothing to hurt the business sentiments of Tirupur,” an NCB officials said. 

Sources say smugglers appear to be taking advantage of the delicate balance the enforcers achieve, and try to firm up their business. “We have clear information on the cocaine trade from Tirupur. But we are yet to identify the routes and the cartel that operate there. We are on track to identify the kingpins and the drug route,” NCB’s Chennai Zonal Director, Bruno A told DTNext. 

Inside sources reveal that at the high-end rave parties in Chennai, usually held in independent bungalows or farmhouses on ECR, many party-goers easily snort up to Rs 20 lakh worth cocaine in each party.

Shockingly, the cocaine seizure details of the enforcement agencies do not show enough material to indicate the growing demand. In 2016, the Chennai zonal unit of NCB had seized 3.695 kg of cocaine in two cases and in 2017 so far, the agency has seized 1.075 kg of cocaine.

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