Hyderabad police have busted a huge drug racket peddling high-end narcotics like LSD, MDMA with a mixed clientele of around 1,000 people, including a film producer, officials of MNCs and even college students and school children.
Reports quoting senior excise department officials said on Wednesday that eight persons, five of them engineers working in senior positions in multinational companies, have been arrested since busting of the drug racket on Sunday.
Excise officials who have been carrying out raids across Hyderabad and Secunderabad, on Wednesday arrested one Brendon Ben (20), suspected to be a key accused, who is running an event management company and allegedly involved in supplying LSD.
Excise officials had on Tuesday seized nearly 100 units of LSD from four persons and arrested them.
In raids conducted across Hyderabad and Secunderabad on Sunday, the department had seized 700 'squares' of LSD, each costing Rs3,000 and worth Rs21 lakh in total, and 35 grams of MDMA worth Rs1.4 lakh.
Three alleged drug peddlers were arrested during the raids, taking the total number of arrests to seven.
The officer said that five of the accused are B Tech graduates who are working in good positions in MNCs.
"They are young, technically qualified, well educated, well paid. They were procuring LSD and MDMA through dark web (internet). With arrest of Brendon Ben, I think it almost puts curtains drawn on the number of arrests with regard to LSD procurement and its sale in and around Hyderabad. I can confidently say that till a new gang starts it again, we have put an end to this menace", Sabharwal said.
Mobile phone data and emails accounts of three of the accused revealed names of close to 1,000 individuals, including the film producer, officials of MNCs and employees of IT firms in Cyberabad, besides students from various schools and colleges, as the clients of peddlers.
LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is generally sold in rave parties in tablets or liquid form. It is known to be one of the most potent 'mood-changing' chemicals. The MDMA, or methylenedioxymethamphetamine, commonly known as 'ecstasy', is used as a recreational drug.
"Nearly 1,000 individuals, and a lot of them youngsters, are found to be LSD users. A disturbing trend is students, particularly a few school students, using LSD, which is a matter of concern", Akun Sabharwal, the prohibition and excise enforcement director, told reporters.
The Excise Department has issued advisories to 26 schools and 27 colleges after finding that a sizable number of students are hooked to drugs.
"Identification of children will not be revealed and we will recommend for their rehabilitation and counselling. Through the advisories we have asked the educational institutions to sensitise teachers and students on this issue and watch out for erratic or deviant behaviour in students", Sabharwal said.
This list of users may go up as this information is based on the analysis of only three mobile phones seized from the accused, he added.
The areas in the vicinity of the schools should also be monitored and also easy availability of cash/cards with students should also be monitored, he said, adding the institutes should take it as a campaign.
He said a meeting cum interaction is proposed with principals of almost 80 schools in Hyderabad on 14 July and a similar exercise would be undertaken regarding colleges as well.
The officer said the users of drugs were in touch with the peddlers through mobile apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.
The department has also started a toll-free number (1800 4252523) to enable citizens, parents, teachers and students who have any information regarding drug peddling.
He said the excise department is also making efforts to extend the fight against drugs from enforcement to education and awareness through messages and videos.