Cigarette, tobacco,  drug sale thrives during lockdown

Mumbai: Despite no recent seizures made by the Mumbai Police's Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC), the businesses of cigarette stall owners, drug peddlers do not seem to be affected at all, as they managed to sell their stock at black market rate. Moreover, since these products are sold at black market rates and are scarce in supply, the customers hardly shy away from buying in bulk, said a police officer.

Ever since the lockdown was clamped on March 25, not a single case of narcotics seizure or peddling was recorded in the last three months, however, the sellers of cigarettes, drugs like cannabis amongst others have been thriving very well.

At a time when people are going jobless due to cost-cutting in the wake of the lockdown, the sales of cigarettes, drugs, liquor and tobacco have been on a rife, and surprisingly untouched.

An ANC official said, with police checking at multiple nakabandis and stealing of borders, it was observed that many drugs originating from Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand had stopped amid lockdown, which led to supply chains running dry. A local stall owner, who sells cigarettes and tobacco, said, in the initial days of lockdown, a cigarette worth Rs 15 was sold at a surge price of Rs 60, a pack of 10 cigarettes for Rs 600. However, these rates gradually came down as the relaxations were coming into play. The price depended on the area."

Only a fortnight ago, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had seized a container load of cigarettes at the Nhava Sheva port worth over Rs 12 crore which was imported from Dubai, by declaring the content as dates.

The DRI officials had stated that the cigarettes were meant to be sold at Rs. 450 for each packet in retail.

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