'Cocaine traffickers target India'

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New Delhi, Mar 5: Drug traffickers from West Africa were increasing the targetting South Asia, mainly India for cocaine trafficking, said the latest annual report of International Narcotics Control Board.

But the Narcotics Control Bureau maintained that the ''cocaine part of the report was overdone.'' The Vienna-based Board released its 2007 annual report here today which claimed that cannabis and heroin were being increasingly trafficked and abused in South Asia. ''West African traffickers have targetted coutries in South Asia, mainly India, for cocaine smuggling...South American cocine is trafficked to India in small quantities where it is exchanged for South-West Asian heroin bound for Europe or North America. India is increasiagly being used as a major transit country and also as a destination for drug trafficking.'' the report said.

Director general, NCB K C Verma, who was present on the occasion said the cocaine trafficking portion of the report was ''overdone.'' At the same time, he refused to term the reference on cocaine trafficking in India as incorrect. ''I reacted to what was said during the presentation. I am yet to go through the entire report...it cannot be termed incorrect,'' he told reporters later.

The report claimed that cross-border smuggling was relatively easy due to the porous borders between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal and illicit cultivation and abuse of cannabis continued to be a problem in most of the countries in South Asia.

According to the report, illicitly manufactured pharmaceutical preparations such as cocaine-based syrups, benzodiazepines and buprenorphine were smuggled from India to Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In India, organised criminal groups traffick in amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS).

In South Asia, injection of heroin and pharmaceutical preparations was contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS. In India, the areas with highest incidence of drug-related HIV/AIDS continued to be the north-eastern border with Myanmar and large urban areas.

UNI

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