KOCHI: The online secret chatting applications like Telegram are becoming a headache to the excise and the police with their widespread use for illegal drug deals.
The drug peddlers use these applications, which are difficult to trace and easy to use, for taking orders and contacting dealers, according to official sources.
“They use the messenger with end-to-end encryption to exchange information regarding the movement of the contraband, including its purchase and sale. We found that in Kerala most of the locations where the exchange of the contraband has happened several times are in Thrissur and Palakkad. From there, the dealers travel to different spots to reach their customers,” a source said.
The information regarding the online dealings was identified after interrogating the accused caught in drug cases. They use codes in local names for the items to be delivered so that others won’t suspect anything.
According to officials, all secret chats in these types of applications are device-specific and are not part of their cloud. This means a person can only access messages in a secret chat from his device of origin.
Recently, the Aluva excise arrested a Kottayam native Zakeer who used to smuggle the contraband through an Iranian man with the help of the encrypted chat in the online app. The sleuths seized two-kg hashish oil, 95 alprazolam tablets and 35 nitrazepam tablets from him. The officials said that he used chatting applications like Telegram to connect to the dealers in Kulu and Manali in Himachal Pradesh to smuggle in the contraband.
In May, the special squad of Ernakulam excise seized max jelly ecstasy, a top grade variant of MDMA, from a Kozhikode native Savad who used these applications for contacting the customers and also the dealers in different areas in order to maintain the secrecy.
The officials said that he was inspired from the stories of western drug cartels and was also known by the name Guzman, a Mexican druglord and former leader of the international crime syndicate Sinaloa Cartel.
The excise is facing difficulty in these cases as it lacks modern technical tools to trace and identify these new-generation businesses. They usually seek the help of police cyber experts. “For cyber analysis, which is crucial for any further development in the investigation, we need to depend on the police. A proposal for the formation of an advanced cyber cell has not yet been sanctioned,” an officer with the excise said.