Hyderabad: There are two main ways to nail drug smugglers: Sniffer dogs and Trace Portal machines (puffer machine). In both aspects, Hyderabad lags behind. Unlike gold, detection of drugs being smuggled out of the country is not easy for customs officials, who usually trap a smuggler by checking his ‘frequent travel’ history or other intelligence inputs.
Smugglers pack these drugs inside the packets of edibles or cooking ingredients to get past the security checks, and no scanners can differentiate between cornstarch and drugs like Ketamine, officials say. Besides human carriers, the racket also smuggles drugs through cargo services.
Then there’s the lack of the four-legged investigators. According to experts, in all major airports in the world, 90 per cent of the drug busts happen with the help of the dog squad. Only highly trained sniffer dogs can locate bags containing synthetic drugs in a random check. But, RGI Airport in Hyderabad still does not have a dog squad yet.
The customs officials’ proposal to acquire a dog squad is still stuck in red tape. Then there’s the Trace Portal machine (puffer machine) which is the best tool to detect drug smugglers. In developed countries, at the time of airport security screening, each passenger can be checked using this machine, which is able to detect traces of narcotic drugs or explosives.
But Hyderabad RGI airport does not have such a machine yet."Now the only way left for customs officials to detect a smuggler is by checking his travel history or by getting a tip-off from their intelligence sources. Officials check where the passenger is going, how frequent is his travel, and if there is anything suspicious about him -- this is how intelligence profiling works. It’s impossible to profile each passenger this way because thousands of travelers fly out of Hyderabad each day," said an official. "It would amount to harassment, if customs officials start trailing each passenger at the airport," he concluded.Which probably explains why there is still an incessant stream of drugs being smuggled via air through Rajiv Gandhi Airport to the South Asian countries.