Lockdown aided more drug seizures on India-Bangladesh border

Quantity of marijuana and yaba tablets seized by BSF in 2020 was almost thrice the quantity in 2019

The COVID-19 lockdown apparently did not make much of a difference for cattle smugglers and drug traffickers along the India-Bangladesh border. But it helped the BSF Guwahati Frontier catch more of them and the contraband items they were ferrying in 2020 than in 2019. The frontier guards 509 km of the border — 91.726 km of it through rivers and water bodies — straddling Cooch Behar district of West Bengal and Dhubri and South Salmara districts of Assam.

From January 1 to December 31, the personnel of 11 battalions under the Guwahati Frontier seized cattle heads, phensedyl, yaba tablets, ganja or marijuana, opium and other contraband items worth ₹20.70 crore.

Phensedyl is a codeine-laced cough syrup that is addictive while each yaba pill is a potent mix of stimulants including methamphetamine and caffeine.

Cattle brought from northern India are usually smuggled out to Bangladesh from the Cooch Behar and Dhubri sectors. BSF officials said the number of cattle seized in these sectors was fewer in 2020 than the 22,324 in 2019.

“We caught 263 Indian and 35 Bangladeshi nationals for various criminal activities along the border in 2020 compared to 219 and 27 respectively in 2019. This helped us seize more banned cough syrups and drugs,” a BSF spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The border guards seized 29,688 bottles of phensedyl in 2020, almost twice that in 2019. The seizure in the cases of marijuana (3,256.588 kg) and yaba tablets (68,684) last year was almost thrice the quantity in 2019.

“Apart from checking such crimes, we formed two anti-human trafficking units under the frontier. We have been resolving many border issues with the cooperation from the Border Guards Bangladesh,” the spokesperson said, adding that the BSF had ramped up vigilance with digital sensors, drones, night-vision cameras and other gadgets in anticipation of crimes because of relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions across the country.

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