New Delhi: A Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) constable, a young financial analyst and an Army officer’s son were among 22 active members of a syndicate who were arrested in multiple raids across the country as a pan-India darknet drug trafficking case was busted after a 4-month long operation.
Speaking to ANI on 12 February, 2022, Gyaneshwar Singh, Deputy Director General (North Region) of NCB said that the accused have connections in the USA, the Netherlands, Poland etc.
“A total of 22 active members of the syndicate were arrested in simultaneous raids all over India at locations in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam, Delhi, NCR, Punjab, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh having linkages with source countries including USA, UK, Netherlands, Poland etc,” he said.
Singh informed that an official of the NCB, who connived with the main accused Jasbir Singh in the destruction of evidence, was also charged under Section 59 A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. The NCB official has been arrested and is currently in judicial custody.
The NCB Deputy Director-General said Jasbir Singh, one of the kingpins of darknet drug trafficking in West Bengal, was very ambitious and wanted to take over the Indian market of ecstasy, LSD and weed.
Another accused is Shraddha Surana, a young financial analyst, working with a multi-national company. “She fell in love with Jasbir and then got involved in darknet drug trafficking. She used to handle all finances in crypto and UPI,” Gyaneshwar Singh said.
Siddharth, son of the high-rank officer in the Indian Army, and Suvashish Roy, a fashion designer with an entertainment company was also involved in the drug trafficking case, the NCB informed.
Accused Suvashish Roy allegedly prepared stickers similar to an eCommerce platform to ship the parcels containing drugs. A young singer Divyas Bhardewa was also arrested in the case.
Gyaneshwar Singh informed that the main accused who was operating the entire syndicate from jail was known as LSD King aka Raghunath Kumar. “He belongs to poor family background and was a college dropout. Raghunath was a victim of child sex abuse. LSD King was arrested in Karnataka with 570 blots. He is currently lodged in Bellary and is operating from jail,” the NCB officer added.
Gyaneshwar Singh further revealed that these members use the darknet, social media, cryptocurrencies, couriers and Indian Post for the trafficking of drugs. He also said that the traffickers did not know each other’s real names.
He revealed that the NCB had shut down 3 darknet drug markets like ‘Dark Net Market (DNM)’, an India based web platform to sell/ buy drugs, locate suppliers/buyers and assess the quality of the product; ‘DRED’, a dark web page for review rating and internal performance appraisal of India based drug dealers, mainly used by foreign vendors and ‘The Orient Express’, telegram-based group with approximately 300 members (consumers/street level peddlers) and 6 verified vendors (Suppliers).
The NCB officer further added that this operation was started with a case from NCB’s Kolkata Zonal unit and was further taken up by Delhi Zonal unit.
“Almost, all the accused were in their youth aged between 20-35 years. They varied from professionals such as engineers, doctors, financial consultants, businessmen to artists such as musicians, to school dropouts.”
“This operation also revealed the loophole that exists in our system. The syndicates exploited couriers/India Post for the absence of robust system and scrutiny system loopholes to ensure genuine KYC of correct address or IDs. Even the worst part is that these drugs were advertised as a restaurant’s menu in their circles for consumers with attractive offers. Escrow deals were offered to win the confidence of the consumer.”
Speaking further, Gyaneshwar Singh said, “To date, none of the 22 arrestees has been granted bail by the court. Their bail has been rejected on the grounds of the severity of the crime done to influence the youth of the nation to drugs. However, one student has been granted interim bail to appear in his exams.”
Elaborating on the modus operandi of the drug syndicate, the NCB said that the accused used pseudo names, single-use crypto wallets, fake Ids, fake addresses, professional.
“During the operation, the team also found the advertisement of the drugs on Telegram group, Instagram and Wickr Me apps. Even the vendors are verified by the owner/co-owner, and the escrow deals are signed between the dealers.”
“Several applications were found in the mobile phones of the accused, such as Wickr Me, Tor browser, Telegram, Instagram etc. Few phones were customized for darknet usage utilizing the custom operating system for mobile that would hide IP address and identity. Multiple ids were found in mobile phones and these ids were forwarding the drug parcels to the customers and taking payments via PayTM, cryptocurrency, UPI transfer, and several other modes,” Gyaneshwar Singh said.
He said that one of the accused, who is a computer professional, used to control the syndicate’s supply chain and give technical assistance of VPN usage and related applications like Wickr and its functionality including usage of Telegram to the accused.