Five people have been arrested in Mumbai, India in connection with the seizure of an LSD shipment from the United States that has an estimated street value of about $107,800.
Two of the five suspects have been identified as Arbaz Khan and Chirag Jain, both students.
The students and their three partners in crime, Farhan Khan, Admiya Modi, and Laxman Rajan apparently bought the drugs using Bitcoin.
They face drug trafficking charges according to the highly punitive Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act and, if found guilty, they could each serve a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
LSD was packaged in the form of Acid Stamps
Considered a party drug, the majority of LSD users are teenagers and college students.
The drug is a categorized as a Schedule I Controlled Substance alongside narcotics such as heroin and ecstasy (MDMA).
When consumed, it induces strong hallucinatory experiences and distorts the passage of time and the user’s surroundings.
Typically, the psychotropic drug comes as a liquid, tablet, gelatin square, or even a sugar cube.
The LSD shipment that was seized by law enforcement in Mumbai came in the form of small pieces of paper called “microdots.” The five suspected traffickers purportedly sourced the drugs from a friend of one of the suspects then paid for it in Bitcoin.
Indian police say the consignment of the odorless and tasteless party drug was transported from the United States via courier services.
This particular consignment consisted of 1,400 microdots, worth over $100,000, which was paid for in Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Plays a Huge Role in the Global Drug Trade
The decentralized cryptocurrency has brought with it advantages for everyone, including the ever-popular online drug vendors.
Bitcoin has become a primary source of payment on the dark web and now at street level, as is the case with the recent LSD seizure.
Last year’s launch of India-based Unocoin’s API has no doubt made it easier for people in India to access Bitcoin.
As beneficial as these promises to be for commerce in India, it also comes with the shadow of increased criminal activity based on the fact that Bitcoin is largely unmitigated currency.
The anti-narcotics division of the Mumbai police department says that the LSD purchased overseas using Bitcoin would then be repackaged and resold in local markets within the City.
Conducting Transactions using Bitcoin violates Anti-Money Laundering Provisions, Says Government
Following the arrest of the five, the government spoke on the use of Bitcoin in India to conduct both legal and illegal transactions.
According to a spokesperson, the Reserve Bank of India does not recognize Bitcoin as a form of legitimate currency, meaning that anyone caught using it is liable to be charged with money laundering.
Bitcoin has also recently been viewed in a negative light after a politician hinted at Bitcoin being nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.
Previously, the cryptocurrency had experienced marked growth on account of the lack of regulation on its usage.
The government has insisted that Bitcoin has no mandate to operate as legal currency within the country and has warned everyone to transact using Bitcoin at their own peril.
In light of this announcement, the five suspected drug smugglers could also face additional money laundering charges since it has been confirmed that the LSD consignment was purchased using Bitcoin.
Police inspector Sunil Mane of Mumbai’s anti-narcotics department suspects that the five could have been in operation for a long stint before their arrest.
This assumption is based on the scale of their operation which involves a significant amount of money in Bitcoin and the large consignment of drugs.
According to the police inspector, they apprehended the suspects after acting on a tip-off and ambushing the drug trafficking group on Link Road in Malad.
The group is suspected to be among the top suppliers of LSD in the region.