Drug Peddlers Targeting Youth Through Social Media

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Syed Fawad Ali Shah
The International drug traffickers have stepped up the use of social media to trigger demand for drugs in many countries including Pakistan, India and Thailand. According to an investigative report, the ringleaders of this trade are operating their networks from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Thailand. The benefit of drug use is explained on social media to the younger generation and techniques are used to attract the younger generation towards it. A senior officer off IA Cyber Crime Wing Islamabad said on condition of anonymity that we have received reports of cybercriminals whose IP addresses have been traced which show that some notable ringleaders of the deadly network are from Afghanistan and Arab countries. Meanwhile, the anti-narcotics force in Pakistan is also searching for people involved in online drug supply. Online drug sales run into the millions of dollars each month but the name of the mastermind is not yet known. Haji Naik Amal Shinwari, a resident of Pakistan’s Khyber District who has helped to apprehend many drug smugglers for local and foreign security agencies, says it is a modern and secure way to sell drugs. For this, drug traffickers have to hire IT experts at huge salaries. It is not necessary that the IT expert must operate from Pakistan. Such people are running these affairs while sitting in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and European countries. Haji Naik Amal Shinwari says that an enormous amount of drugs are sold online in Pakistan and drug traffickers are inventing new ways to supply drugs. Apart from other means, drugs are also sent to Pakistan through drones from Afghanistan and it is easy to catch them. In Pakistan, those caught in drug trafficking are often new players while it is almost impossible to catch experienced smugglers. He also said that the biggest source of income for the Afghan Taliban at the moment is money coming from drug trafficking which is transferred to Pakistan through Hundi Hawala (money laundering) and then from Pakistan to Afghanistan. He adds that the number of informants reporting against drug traffickers is very low because of the non-cooperation of anti-narcotics agencies. He says that in the past he provided information to Pakistani and foreign agencies about the top drug smugglers who in turn tried to assassinate him and bribed government officials to implicate him in false cases against. Recently iron fence is being removed by the Afghan Taliban from some parts of the Pak-Afghan border to facilitate drug trafficking. ANF and customs officials have been targeted by the Afghan Taliban in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to the seizure of their narcotics consignments seized by the anti-narcotics force and customs. There are fears that the government offices could be attacked as the Afghan Taliban have demanded the release of three of their men, who were arrested by the ANF with a sizable quantity of drugs. The price of drugs in the Pakistani market is decreasing day by day and this price will come down further in March-April. The Taliban know that the Pakistani government is supporting them, but the Taliban’s habit of smuggling drugs could damage relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. European countries, including the US Drug Enforcement Administration, the UK’s National Crime Agency, Canada’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Australian Federal Police, have also provided large sums of money and equipment to the Pakistani anti-narcotics force and customs to curb drug trafficking. So far billions of dollars have been given by all these countries to eradicate the menace of smuggling in Pakistan with little success. Presently there is a need to encourage parents to talk to their children about drugs and monitor their activities to prevent usage of contraband while the government should not only take the problem seriously, but also take strict action against smuggling and launch an awareness campaign. There is a need for a systematic evaluation during such mass media campaigns to know that they are leading to changes in drug use attitudes and behaviors and what is the ratio of effectiveness. Social media is the most powerful tool to bring change in the society but at the same time it can play the role of a weapon in the hands of criminals.