Racketeers involved in peddling high-end narcotics like LSD, MDMA had a mixed clientele of around 1,000 people including a film producer, officials of MNCs and shockingly students of various schools and colleges here, a senior Excise Department official said today.
Eight persons, five of them engineers working in good positions in multinational companies, have been arrested so far by the Excise Department since it busted the drug racket on Sunday after conducting raids across Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
The eighth person arrested today was Brendon Ben (20), suspected to be a key accused, who is running an event management company and allegedly involved in supplying LSD.
Through the analysis of mobile phones and emails of three of the accused, excise officials have found 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.
The 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. One such user is a class VIII student. Yes, that's disturbing," Akun Sabharwal, the prohibition and excise enforcement director, told reporters here.
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 said.
In view of investigation revealing disturbing facts on the use of drugs by students, the 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.
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 July 14 and a similar exercise would be undertaken regarding colleges as well.
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 today's 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.
Responding to a query, he said children are getting attracted to LSD either out of curiosity or due to a peer pressure.
"They think that if somebody else is trying (drugs), why shouldn't I?" he added.
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.
Excise officials had yesterday seized nearly 100 units of LSD from four persons and arrested them.
The department conducted raids across Hyderabad and Secunderabad on Sunday and seized 700 'squares' of LSD, each costing Rs 3,000 and worth Rs 21 lakh in total, and 35 grams of MDMA worth Rs 1.4 lakh.
Three alleged drug peddlers were arrested during the raids.
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