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Pakistan’s drone drug pipeline fuelling heroin epidemic
Photo Courtesy: Khalsavox.com

Pakistan’s drone drug pipeline fuelling heroin epidemic

| @indiablooms | 01 Jul 2024, 10:18 am

In the border districts of Punjab, a sinister dance unfolds in the skies- a deadly waltz of drones ferrying heroin across the International Border (IB) from Pakistan.

This modern-day narco-trafficking saga has plunged Punjab into an escalating addiction crisis, evoking comparisons to an “elephant in the room” that authorities hesitate to confront.

Since the advent of drones in September 2020, the landscape of drug smuggling has evolved dramatically.

Initially used for surveillance along the US-Mexico border, drones quickly became a tool of choice for Pakistani smugglers targeting Punjab.

These unmanned aerial vehicles, often equipped with sophisticated navigation systems, stealthily breach the IB, dropping payloads of high-purity heroin in villages and towns near the border.

The modus operandi is as audacious as it is alarming. Smugglers on the Indian side signal their coordinates via WhatsApp, prompting drones to deliver illicit goods at designated spots.

The exchange, facilitated through the hawala system, underscores the high-tech, state-sponsored nature of the operation—a far cry from traditional smuggling methods involving tunnels and river crossings.

Despite efforts by Punjab Police and the Border Security Force (BSF), the interception rate remains dishearteningly low. For every drone seized, multiple others slip through undetected, carrying payloads that fuel an addiction epidemic.

Reports suggest that for every kilogram of heroin seized, several more evade capture, perpetuating a cycle of dependency and despair among Punjab’s youth.

According to Rakesh Kaushal, DIG (Border), recent months have seen a surge in drone seizures, highlighting the escalating scale of the challenge. In 2023 alone, authorities confiscated 107 drones, more than double the number recovered in the previous three years combined—a stark indicator of the growing sophistication and frequency of drone incursions.

Local authorities, grappling with this airborne menace, have deployed Drone Emergency Response Systems (DERS) and established Village Defense Committees (VDCs) to detect and deter drone activity. However, these measures have proven inadequate against the ingenuity and persistence of smugglers, who adapt swiftly to evade detection.

The economic incentives are stark: carriers, often impoverished locals, earn substantial sums for ferrying heroin from the IB to shadowy buyers in nearby towns. These transactions, concealed under layers of anonymity and cash, illustrate the complex web of actors involved in the illicit trade, from small-time couriers to elusive kingpins.

Amidst this crisis, the human toll is staggering. Punjab, once known as India’s breadbasket, now grapples with a generation ravaged by addiction—a direct consequence of unchecked drug trafficking facilitated by drones. Families are torn apart, communities devastated, and futures compromised as heroin consumption escalates unabated.

As authorities race against time to stem the tide of narcotics, the path forward remains fraught with challenges. Enhanced collaboration between Indian and international agencies, bolstered by technological innovations and community vigilance, is crucial to curbing this transnational scourge.

The drone-and-drug narrative in Punjab is more than a law enforcement issue; it is a societal crisis demanding urgent attention and decisive action. Until then, Punjab’s battle against heroin will continue, its skies haunted by the ominous buzz of drones and its land scarred by the specter of addiction.

(Photo and text courtesy Khalsavox.com)

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