Latin American drug traffickers foray into India

On 22 June, acting on a tip-off from local sources, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) of India arrested Edwin Enrique, a Colombian national, for allegedly smuggling pure cocaine into the country. Enrique arrived in Chennai, a city located on the Bengali coast, on a tourist visa. The Colombian claimed he was a boxer invited by the ‘All India Boxing Association’, which was later discovered to be faked.

After the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) took Enrique into preventative custody, they discovered 200 marker pens in his suitcase, each filled with 10 grams of cocaine. According to the NCB, the confiscated drug was estimated to be worth Rs5 crore (US$786,349) in the international market.

Indian authorities are convinced that the drugs were passing through Chennai en route to Mumbai, which has become a key transit point and market due to its location.  What NCB calls the ‘golden corridor’, extending from Vadodara to Vapi in Gujarat, is turning Mumbai into a transshipment point for Europe, the Gulf and Far Eastern destinations. Traffickers are always looking for new routings to evade checkpoints and take law enforcement off guard.

But India is changing fast with a growing domestic market for illicit stimulants, both imported and locally produced. With a large and highly developed chemical sector, precursor chemicals like ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine are readily available for the clandestine drug industry. As Colombian cartels extend their reach into India, a  new chapter in the globalisation of transnational organised crime groups may be opening.