Malappuram: Once a hub of progressive thinking and creative discussions, the campuses in Kerala have now become the centre of drug abuse and a safe haven of narcotic dealers. The latest news is that the drug mafia have changed their base to the neighbouring states following the Excise Department’s crackdown on illegal sales through pharmaceutical shops.

The narcotics reach students in the form of tablets and capsules. The Excise has received crucial information about the new strategies adopted by the mafia from people who were nabbed from Malappuram recently.

They are now operating from Tamil Nadu, Bengaluru, Puducherry and Goa, where such substances are available over the counter and the price is low.

People in the age group of 20 to 30 act as the main carriers of the drugs. The drugs that come to Kerala are mainly those prescribed for various mental health disorders. Excise has information that a huge racket is behind selling narcotics to students.

The racket has contact points in almost all professional colleges in the state mainly engineering institutes. During interrogation, those arrested from Malappuram have disclosed the names of the colleges were they distribute the narcotics on a regular basis.

Police have found that a large number of students involved in accidents in the state were under the influence of drugs at that time. The distribution of ganja is also picking up pace in campuses.

The Excise Department has to face several bottlenecks while trying to wipe out the menace.

Excise said they feel helpless in curbing ganja supply after a new amendment in the law allowed bail for an individual if he is caught with ganja up to 999 grams.      

The ganja distributers, taking advantage of this amendment, now supplies the contraband in small packets. If they are caught, they avail a bail after pleading guilty in the court and paying a fine of around Rs 3,000 or Rs 5,000.

This apart, the rule that requisitions the presence of a drug inspector for conducting checks at the pharmacies is also becoming a headache for the Excise Department. There are only one or two drug inspectors in a district.