The Narcotics Control Bureau on Tuesday said it has made the 'largest-ever' single operation seizure of about 15,000 LSD blots in the country and arrested six people after it busted an international drugs trafficking network operating on the darknet.
The seizure, as per officials, is estimated to be worth over Rs 10 crore in the international market (about Rs 5K-7K per blot) and all the six who have been taken into custody, beginning late last month, are students and youngsters who wanted to make 'easy money' by remaining anonymous within the deep layers of secret internet-based apps and messenger service like WICKR.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah congratulated the federal anti-narcotics agency on the achievement, saying it reflected great coordination between cyber vigilance and human intelligence and this was in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a drug-free India.
LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide is a synthetic chemical based-drug and is categorised as a hallucinogen. It is trafficked by painting it on blots, half the size of a stamp paper, and is consumed by licking or swallowing.
"This is the 'largest-ever' seizure of LSD blots in the country in a single operation. Six youngsters have been arrested till now and we are on the trail of one more such cartel," NCB deputy director general (northern region) Gyaneshwar Singh told reporters in New Delhi.
Those arrested are in the age group of 25-28 years, the officials said.
Shah said the success was a result of a "great coordination between cyber vigilance and human intelligence...as the darknet and cryptocurrencies were used to trade these drugs".
"Due to intensified vigilance and improved coordination, drug seizures have exponentially increased in India in the last few years," the home minister said on Twitter.
A total of 14,961 blots were seized as part of the about two-week long operation and the blots are of "gammagoblin and holy spirit of asura" brand, Singh said.
The deputy DG further said that till now, the highest seizure of LSD was 5,000 blots by the Karnataka Police during the entire span of 2021 and about a similar amount of blots by the Kolkata NCB in 2022 in a single operation.
LSD abuse is largely prevalent among youngsters and it can lead to serious health issues, Singh said.
According to the officials, LSD is known as 'acid' in illegal drugs parlance and is odourless, colourless and tasteless and the user loses the sense of space, distance and time affecting their judgement and behaviour severely.
Possession of 0.1 gram of LSD (about six blots), which is the commercial quantity for the hallucinogenic drug, invites strict legal action under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, leading to denial of bail and rigorous imprisonment in jail for the person who trades or consumes it, an NCB officer said.
NCB's deputy DG Singh said the latest seizure of about 15,000 LSD blots is 2,500 times of the commercial quantity.
He said the LSD seized by them was sourced from Poland and the Netherlands and this syndicate was trafficking it across various states by taking payments through cryptocurrency and UPI, and the contraband was shipped through couriers and postal networks.
The NCB, the officials said, is trying to freeze the crypto funds too.
"The suppliers and consumers intercepted by us had no personal interaction and every contact was on the darknet," Singh said.
He said the operation was undertaken by a special team of the Delhi zonal unit of the federal anti-narcotics agency after they 'patrolled' the darknet for many hours.
Darknet refers to the deep hidden internet platform that is used for narcotics sale, exchange of pornographic content and other illegal activities by using the secret alleys of the onion router (ToR) to stay away from the surveillance of law enforcement agencies.
Apart from the LSD blots, 2.32 kgs of ganja and Rs 4.65 lakh cash have been seized while bank deposits worth Rs 20 lakh have been frozen, the deputy DG said.
NCB zonal director (Delhi) Gyanendra Kumar Singh said those arrested are mostly educated and are young.
"One is a student who is from Goa but enrolled at a private university in Noida, another is a Delhi boy who was trying to send some of these blots to Kashmir and a girl who has been arrested from the NCR," the zonal director said.
A supplier based in Jaipur and a man from Kerala have also been arrested, he said.
A similar darknet-based drugs trafficking racket was unearthed by the agency in 2021 leading to the arrest of 40 persons.