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The Covid-19 outbreak has caused record levels of unemployment in India’s northeast and many locals have been tempted by the quick cash drug deals.

A ‘soap box’, a 14g packet of heroin, can be bought for 5,000-10,000 Indian rupees (£50-£100) from a courier and sold in a major Indian city, such as Delhi, for 40,000 rupees (£400).

Mr Hazarika said he filed 205 drug possession or trafficking cases in 2020, but that figure rose to 417 in 2021.

Traffickers transporting drugs to the major cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are using increasingly sophisticated methods to avoid detection. A popular trick is to fill a car’s fuel chamber with gunpowder.

“Three months ago, we received credible information that a known smuggler was planning to smuggle heroin through Assam,” said Pushpraj Singh, an Assam Police Superintendent for the District of Assam. Karbi Anglong.

“When he arrived at the checkpoint, he had hidden the drugs under a seat where his wife and newborn baby were sitting, to create a distraction. I couldn’t believe a parent could use their five or six day old baby like this.

Mr Singh added that the abundance of illegal weapons in the state meant smugglers would often open fire on police.

Along with the increase in drug trafficking, there is an increase in drug use. In 2018, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that around 2.2% of Assam’s 31 million citizens were drug users.

That figure has risen rapidly in 2021, according to Dr Sandeep Hansel, who heads Assam’s Committee on Socio-Economic and Health Development, a public organization tasked with reducing drug use in the state.

“Previously, drugs did not exist here in Assam. We would only see high-class users, children from well-to-do families who had gone to study or work in Mumbai or Bengaluru,” Dr Hansel said.

“But now the drugs are available everywhere, in every village. In one day I could see 100 drug addicts and the majority will be from lower economic classes and tribal communities. I am very worried about drug use in Assam, about the future of my state.

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