A computer monitor shows a Tor Project website blog page discussing the Silk Road takedown by the FBI. TOR is an anonymity network that allows users to access encrypted websites on the Deep Web. (Photo: iStock)

The NCB on Sunday said it has arrested the country’s first ‘darknet’ narcotics operative who allegedly shipped hundreds of psychotropic drug parcels abroad in the garb of sex stimulation medicines.

Dipu Singh, 21, son of a retired army officer, was arrested by the sleuths of the Delhi zonal unit of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) from Lucknow recently.

Darknet refers to the deep hidden internet platform that is used for narcotics sale, exchange of pornographic content and other illegal activities by using the secret alleys of the the onion router (ToR) to stay away from the surveillance of law enforcement agencies.

Owing to its end-to-end encryption, darknet is considered very tough to crack when it comes to investigating criminal activities being rendered over it.

“Singh is a major player on the darknet. His listings were found in one of the biggest and reliable darknet markets like Empire Market and Majestic Garden,” NCB Deputy Director General (operations) Rajesh Nandan Srivastava said.

Singh initially began with shipping medicines related to erectile dysfunction and fitness supplements to overseas locations using the dark internet facility, but later shifted to transacting in psychotropic drugs under this garb seeing the profit margin in this illegal trade, the DDG added.

A hotel management graduate from Amity University in Lucknow, Singh had “mastered the technique to disguise identity while making a shipment”, the NCB said in a statement.

He was arrested by the central anti-narcotics agency under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act after raids were conducted at his residence in Lucknow’s Alam Bagh area.

While 12,000 tablets of various psychotropic drugs were seized from his residence, the NCB alleges Singh is a “mastermind” of hundreds of drug parcels clandestinely couriered to countries like the USA, UK, Romania, Spain and some european nations using the dark web.

A total of 55,000 psychotropic tablets that includes tramadol, zolpidem, alprazolam have been seized as part of this two-month-long operation that was conducted with cooperation from international agencies, NCB Delhi zonal director K P S Malhotra said.

Some other seizures in this case were made in Mumbai and the UK too.

The NCB was part of a global ‘Operation Trance’, launched in December last year, entailing a joint intelligence gathering action on international postal, express mail and courier shipments containing psychotropic drugs (which can only be purchased on a doctor’s prescription) that are abused as sedatives and painkillers.

The latest darknet ring was unearthed as part of this operation, which has international linkages and is spread across Singapore and the US and services of global post offices and international couriers were used as logistics for the illicit trade, Srivastava said.

“The payment gateways of cryptocurrency like Bitcoins and Litecoin were used by the operators to conceal the transactions from regulatory agencies,” the NCB DDG said.

The orders were procured from darknet and routed through various wicker identities, WhatsApp and some business-to-business platforms.

The investigation in the case is ongoing as the NCB is looking at the links of Singh and others associated with him, Malhotra said.

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