Times of India
29 September 2011
By , Mahalingam Ponnusamy
Chennai , India
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Wednesday busted an illegal online pharmacy in Villupuram and arrested two persons, including a 48–year–old Russian national, for exporting psychotropic drugs without valid licences.
South zone NCB officials said the accused had clandestinely dispatched the psychotropic substances to different destinations, including the US and the UK. The two men, including a pharmacy agent from Tamil Nadu, have been remanded to judicial custody and lodged in Puzhal prison here.
“We seized psychotropic drugs like alprazolam, diazepharm, oxicodin, hydrocodin and phentermine from them,” NCB’s south zone director S Davidson Devasirvatham told TOI.
Selling and storing psychotic drugs without proper licenses is an offence under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. “Pharmacies seem to care little about rules and are ready to sell these drugs without prescriptions from doctors,” he said.
Based on a tip–off on September 21, NCB sleuths seized some parcels meant to be sent by speed post from Chennai, which they suspected contained the psychotropic substances. Investigations revealed that an illegal online pharmacy was being operated by C Shankar, alias Sekar, from a house in Villupuram.
On September 26, an NCB team raided the house and recovered three cardboard cartons filled with drugs. NCB officers arrested Shankar, who was in the house, and based on information from him, they also picked up the 48–year–old Russian, V Alexander Vyukhin alias Alex. Vyukhin was traced to a rented house near Auroville close to Puducherry town.
Davidson said Alex had a PAN card and accounts in several banks in the state. It appeared that he had been running the racket for at least five years.
Anatomy Of A Smuggling Racket
The gang operated a website, which advertised the drugs, and accepted online orders and also payments from customers
Psychotropic drugs were then
sourced from local pharmacies at cheap rates, that too without prescriptions from doctors
Drugs like alprazolam, diazepam and oxycodone were then sent by speed post to the US and the UK
Online pharmacy operated as a website promoting drugs
Chennai: NCB’s south zone director S Davidson Devasirvatham said: “We are seeking the help of Interpol to nab the domain host, referred to as John by the two men, who seems to be the mastermind behind the racket.”
NCB officers said international smugglers targeted Asian countries, particularly India, since psychotropic drugs were available easily and at a cheaper rate. “According to our investigation, 95% of these parcels have been sent (in the last five years) by speed post to the US and the rest to destinations in Canada and UK,” said Davidson. The Russian, who posed as apriest, had proper travel documents when the NCB officers nabbed him. The team also seized laptops, hard discs and data relating to the online pharmacy from Shankar’s house.
Shankar, who hails from Nagercoil, is a graduate and has been in the pharmacy business for the last 15 years. It is not clear yet how the two met.
The online pharmacy operated as a website with advertisements promoting the drugs. Customers placed orders and made payments online through the website. “Alex was coordinating with ‘John’ and passed on the orders to Shankar, who in turn collected the drugs from pharmacies and companies across the country,” he said.
The investigation revealed that the gang sent 10 to 20 parcels every day to several countries, an officer said.