Nigerian gangs use Indian women for drug trafficking

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unkaNew Delhi, July 14

(IANS) Anti-narcotic agents are worried over the increasing use of Indian women, sex workers included, by Nigerian cartels to smuggle out drugs.

Until recently, Nigerian gangs in India were sending out heroin sourced from Afghanistan via Pakistan to Europe through unsuspecting courier companies. The traffickers would mostly conceal the drugs inside photo frames. They paid heavy service charges – no questions asked.

The modus operandi came to light when one booking agent found white powder leaking from a sealed parcel booked by a Nigerian. He opened it — only to find drugs.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and Delhi Police cracked down immediately. And then the Nigerian gangs changed tracks. “These days Nigerian drug syndicates have become extra smart. Now they do not book courier parcels themselves. They are exploiting girls from (northeastern) states,” NCB zonal director Sandeep Mittal told IANS.

“They first befriend those who are into prostitution. They lure them into drug trafficking by promising handsome sums of money. Some fall into their trap, unknowingly or knowingly,” Mittal added.

A study by Guwahati-based NGO Global Organisation for Life Development (GOLD) along with the police revealed that a shocking 20 percent involved in prostitution in the region were aged 11-17 years. Titled “Rise in Child Prostitution in Northeast”, the study lists poverty and displacement because of violence as prime reasons behind the increase in the number of young commercial sex workers in the region.

Asked how the Nigerian gangs touch base with Indian women, a top functionary of NCB said: “It is very simple. They meet them in bars and other happening places.

“They buy them drinks and exploit them. Before parting they request the women to do them a favour by booking a parcel with a courier company. At times they pay extra money to these women. “Sometimes these women are aware what is in the parcel but mostly they are generally unaware.” Places in the Indian capital where Nigerian gangs are said to be active include Satya Niketan, Munirka, Sadfarjung Enclave, Ber Sarai and Jiya Sarai in south Delhi and parts of north Delhi.

According to data with Delhi Police, around 2,500 Nigerians live in Delhi. NCB officials however put the figure at 8,000. Officials say most of them are living illegally without any genuine passport or with expired visa.

“The situation is slowly slipping out of our hands. We immediately need to take precautionary measures against Nigerian drug traffickers or they would spoil our young,” a Delhi Police officer said.

Presently more than 70 Nigerians are lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Central Jail. While 65 are on trial, 10 have been convicted.