On July 2, Hyderabad police arrested three men for LSD and MDMA importation and distribution. The men ordered the drugs from a darknet supplier in Chicago and then distributed them amongst dozens of dealers. The dealers, in turn, spread the drugs throughout Hyderabad and Secunderabad where college students and members of the film industry.
Police arrested Calvin Mascarenhas, Abdul Wahed, and Mohammed Abdul Quddus for their roles in a drug distribution network. After the arrests, police discovered that the three men—once considered the leaders of local drug ring—had actually been involved in a much larger “international drug cartel.” The men dealt with a darknet supplier in Chicago who shipped the group drugs through a middleman.
Mascarenhas landed in police custody once before for marijuana possession and distribution. He denied the trafficking charge and acted “bitter” towards police for, as he explained, framing him for marijuana distribution. The July 2017 arrest went differently; when officers of the Telangana Excise Department arrested him, they noted that he had dosed LSD before the arrest. After an extensive interrogation, Mascarenhas told police “everything.”
According to Director Akun Sabharwal of the Hyderabad police, “[Mascarenhas] is a user of drugs and after being interrogated for eight hours, he revealed everything.” Police then busted seven of Mascarenhas’s associates throughout the region. The police director explained that with information from Mascarenhas and evidence from the men’s phones, they saw how large the trafficking network had become. The men frequently interacted with a middleman known as “Bob” or “Mountain,” Mascarenhas told the officers. Bob served as a middleman for many darknet purchases.
After ordering their drugs—either directly from the darknet vendor or through Bob, a “kingpin” who sourced drugs from the darknet—the leaders of the ring sold to the “peddlers.” The peddlers created their own drug network.
According to Sabharwal, the peddlers used social media to contact buyers:
“[A customer] would introduce the peddler to others. This way they created large groups of consumers who kept in touch through social media groups. We knew they had a lot of minor customers but based on the messages we found in the mobile phones seized from the 10 persons arrested so far, we have concluded that students from at least 25 premier schools and another 20 top colleges were customers of this gang that was selling LSD and MDMA. It is shocking.”
Law enforcement implemented a hotline system and asked students to call with any information regarding the distribution network. As of July 9, authorities had spoken with at least 30 students. The hotline is working, an official told the Times of India.
Two of the ten “peddlers” were caught as a result of the hotline, the official explained:
“Most of the calls are from minors who are giving us information about the identities and whereabouts of peddlers. Based on tip-off by some students to the helpline, we have arrested two of the 10 persons. On one tip-off we seized an SUV full of ganja. Students are calling and saying if you go to this place at this time you will find a man selling drugs. One tip-off was about ganja chocolates being sold for Rs 5 each in a shop at Nizamabad.”
Police are currently unsure how to proceed with the darknet market vendor from Chicago. Additionally, “Bob” or “Mountain” is on the run and police are struggling to find him.
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