Narcotic trail leads to postal service - You've got mail & marijuana

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  • Published 3.04.08

Cooch Behar, April 3: Marijuana smugglers here are using the postal service to send parcels full of the processed narcotic to distant locations in north India, Bengal excise department officials discovered today.

The excise officers stopped a North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) bus at Mahakaldham, around 20km from here, and seized three parcels stamped with Delhi addresses and containing 30kg of marijuana. The total consignment is worth Rs 2 lakh, said the officers.

The bus plies daily between Alipurduar and Dinhata’s Bamanhat, located close to the Bangladesh border, stopping at several post offices in Cooch Behar district to drop mails and parcels. On the return trip, it takes outgoing parcels and mails from the same post offices and deposits them in Alipurduar, from where they are loaded on to trains bound for other parts of the country.

This afternoon, an excise team led by assistant sub-inspector Prasanta Das stopped the bus at Mahakaldham when it was returning to Alipurduar. The passengers were asked to get down and the vehicle was brought to Cooch Behar town.

The superintendent of posts of Cooch Behar, Niladri Saha, was called and the parcels were opened in a room in the excise office, with the whole process captured on camera.

One parcel contained 20kg of ganja, while two others had 5kg each.

Excise officers interrogated Utpal Ghosh, the postal worker who was responsible for the postal items in the bus, but later allowed him to leave.

“We had information that the postal system was being used by ganja smugglers to ferry the banned substance out of the state and our suspicions were proved today by the seizure,” said T.W. Bhutia, the deputy excise controller of Cooch Behar.

The officer said postal employees could be involved in the racket. “We have told the postal department to look into the matter seriously as the parcels were kept in sacks belonging to the postal department,” Bhutia said. However, he refused to disclose the details of the Delhi addresses.

“This is a serious matter. We will have to find out exactly what is going on,” the Cooch Behar superintendent of posts said after the discovery.

Excise department sources said villagers along the Bangladesh border cultivated marijuana during winter and this was the time when it was harvested.

“We go to the areas and burn the plants whenever we get specific information,” Bhutia said.

The main areas where the plant is grown are Dinhata, Burirhat, Nazirhat and the dry bed of the Mansai river, excise sources said.