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Cocaine started coming into India, says Sitharaman asking DRI to ensure smugglers face law of land

NEW DELHI: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday asked enforcement agencies to up their vigil and go after big smugglers involved in drug trafficking and sending 'mountains' of illegal drugs into the country.

Sitharaman said cocaine and other psychotropic drugs have started coming into India and the agencies need to figure out if the country is becoming a consuming country. She made the remarks while addressing the 65th Founding Day of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence here in the national capital on Monday.

"DRI should make sure that smugglers are not smarter than you. Each one of these (smuggling) cases, at the earliest point of time, must come to the conclusion," said Sitharaman.

She said arrest and prosecute the smugglers and the DRI must ensure that big handlers of such smuggling activities must face the law of the land.

"There is a need to work hard and catch that sending a mountain of drugs. Need to greater access to a bilateral agreement with foreign countries as technology has enabled us to do things which earlier was not possible," Sitharaman remarked.

The finance minister also made a suggestion to the DRI. She said that DRI, CBIC and Revenue department may start a two-day long meet to see global cooperation.

"Start a workshop with the cooperation of Intelligence agencies for better cooperation, get actionable intelligence to crack the smugglers," she said.

Further, the finance minister said that India has got the Presidency of G-20 and the country must take this opportunity to organise a global meet where organisations like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) should be called to see what kind of work they do and how that can help us to prevent smuggling.

Separately, a comparative year-wise trend of NDPS seizures showed that there has been a sharp increase in the number of seizures of the items in India.

In 2021-22, seizures of cocaine increased 3,479 per cent from 8.667 kg to 310.21 kg, an annual report produced by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence said on Monday. In 2019-20, the seizure was 1.108 kg.

For methamphetamine and heroin, the seizure increased by 1,281 per cent and 1,588 per cent to 884.69 kg and 3,410.71 kg, respectively, the report showed.

Further, for ganja, data showed DRI made a maximum number of seizures of ganja in Madhya Pradesh, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Maharashtra.

DRI arrested about 131 persons during the financial year 2021-22 for offences committed under the NDPS Act, 1985, the report said.



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