India Seeing Spike in Drug Smuggling Using Crypto, Says Home Minister Amit Shah

Amit Shah, India's Home Minister and close aide of the nation's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said there has been an increase in drug smuggling through the darknet and cryptocurrencies, which is also responsible for terrorism, according to a report by the news agency IANS and a tweet by Shah in Hindi.

Shah made the remarks on Wednesday at a high-level regional meeting on drug trafficking and national security in his home state of Gujarat in Western India.

According to the IANS report, Shah said major drug smuggling cases among states of the western region of the country include the use of couriers and parcels in drug smuggling, the darknet and an increase in smuggling through cryptocurrencies.

Over 12,000 kilograms of seized drugs valued at $76 million (623 crore INR) were destroyed in the presence of Shah on Wednesday, according to a report by news agency ANI. Shah said there was a need to destroy the entire network of drugs after new trends emerged in drug trafficking.

According to Shah, between 2006-2013 and 2014-2022 there was a 152% increase in registered drug smuggling cases, from 1,257 in the earlier period to 3,172 in the later period. In the same time period, drugs seized went from 1.52 lakh kg to 3.33 lakh kg, now valued at $2.4 billion (20,000 crores INR).

Shah's comments coincided with an Economic Times report that said three cryptocurrency exchanges have come under the scrutiny of Indian investigative agencies for facilitating drug transactions, citing a senior government official who did not reveal the names of the companies.

The agencies included the Enforcement Directorate and the Income Tax department following an alert by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) that alleged illicit drug transactions between 2019 and 2021 worth $3.4 billion (28,000 crore INR) were facilitated by some of these companies, the report said.

In the past few weeks, Indian agencies have conducted several inspections, raids or searches on crypto exchanges.

Read More: India Regulator Probes at Least 10 Crypto Exchanges on Money Laundering Allegations: Report