Published: 08th September 2019 10:14 AM | Last Updated: 08th September 2019 10:14 AM | A+A A-
By Phanindra PapasaniExpress News Service
VIJAYAWADA: A college dropout, Suresh (name changed) earns Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 a month, working only for two hours a day. The 20-year-old neither has a fancy job in an MNC nor is a businessman. Wondering how the youngster, who discontinued engineering course, is pocketing such a huge sum without sweating much? The secret lies here. He is into peddling ganja, which he smuggles into the city from agency areas in Visakhapatnam. His primary customers are youngsters of his age and college students.
The shocking truth came to light during an operation carried out by the commissioner’s task force (CTF) in which nine students studying in different colleges in the city, including Suresh, were caught red-handed supplying ganja to other students on Friday evening. Luring the students with tips and commissions, ganja peddlers are spreading their business network in the city with youth as their target. “For every kilogram of ganja sold, the person who refers other customers to the peddler, gets 20-30 per cent as commission. The network of these gangs is huge and they operate through WhatsApp groups,” said Additional Commissioner of Police (ADCP- CTF) KV Srinivasa Rao.
Vijayawada city, which is a well-known business hub, is rapidly transforming into a centre of ganja peddling and consumption with colleges as fulcrum of illegal business involving students. Though the city is unofficially known as a transit point for ganja smuggling, officials never expected that smuggling gangs would have formed such a strong network students and mediators. For college dropouts and the poor, the illegal business has come as a jackpot. Drug peddling is an easy passport for some youths desperate to lead a luxurious lifestyle without having to work for eight gruelling hours and any education qualification.
How they operate is another interesting story.
In the investigation conducted by TNIE, it was found that a gang starts expanding its network by creating groups on social media or at cricket grounds or colleges and finally ends with meeting the supplier.
All this network-building lasts a little over one week. “Youngsters, who have gained some experience in illegal activities, make friends on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, and invites them for a meeting in the guise of cricket tournaments or a social gathering in their locality. In the first meeting, the peddlers identify people with smoking and drinking habits. To lure them into the business, the peddlers offer free samples for the first time. The peddlers collect money at the next meeting,” said a person, who used to purchase ganja from one of these gangs.
Not just students, the gangs sell the stuff to pan shop owners, rickshaw-pullers, flower traders.“Earlier, there were one or two suppliers for the entire city. But the situation has changed now. Students are directly approaching cultivators to buy ganja. Kingpins will offer free travel to them and also give extra money after every successful operation,” the source explained.
The situation is alarming with most of the students studying in degree and engineering colleges in the city are being addicted to ganja and other vices. For the past three months, more than 50 youngsters most of whom are college students, between the ages of 18 and 21, have been arrested.“A meeting will be convened soon with all the college managements to create awareness on the evil effects of ganja and other substances,” ADCP Rao said. More