BANGI – Traffickers are taking their business online to avoid detection. And they’re hiring students to become drug pushers.
Using social media to cut deals, the criminals will deliver the drugs once the details are finalised on messaging services like WeChat and WhatsApp, said National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) enforcement and security director Zainudin Abdullah.
“Buyers connect with the suppliers online. Money is usually banked into a third person’s account before the drugs are delivered.
“Delivery is either done in person or by leaving them at an agreed place,” he told Sunday Star.
He said Facebook pages calling for the legalisation of ganja were mushrooming.
And members of such social media groups were openly promoting the sale of the product.
Social media is gaining popularity as a medium to buy and sell narcotics brazenly, he added.
“Ganja is being sold either as a drug or disguised as health supplements to fool the authorities and public,” he said.
On the latest modus operandi, he said children and teens were being targeted by traffickers to sell drugs and to get a new generation of school-going addicts hooked on the habit.
“They’re on the lookout for primary and secondary students with disciplinary problems, not active in school activities, or come from poor families,” he said.
“These kids take orders well and don’t ask for much money. They’re cheap labour.
“It’s harder for the authorities to trace drug dealing activities involving children and even if caught, enforcement action is subject to various child-related regulations,” Zainudin added.
Those in institutions of higher learning were also lured to join the trade, he said.
Cash-strapped college and university students who want a luxurious life were potential recruits.
Such young adults are on the lookout for extra income to fund their branded items and expensive trips.
And, being of that age group, they’re more creative in finding new ways to traffic drugs, he said.
“School-leavers and dropouts who are unemployed or are mixing with the wrong crowd are also recruited.
“Because they don’t have money, they can concentrate solely on selling drugs,” he said.
Customs director-general Datuk Subromaniam Tholasy said drugs were being smuggled into the country via mail and express parcels, sea cargo and containers, and hidden inside bag and suitcase compartments.
From 2015 to February this year, drugs worth RM119.66mil were seized by the department.
Besides enhancing its passenger and cargo risk assessment operation, the department is stepping up its enforcement at entry and exit points.
“We’re fostering closer ties with other agencies for a better and quicker, information-sharing network.
“The outreach extends to local communities, schools and institutions of higher learning to educate the public on the dangers of drug use,” Subromaniam said.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said the trend of targeting students was worrying.
“We are very concerned. The ministry will definitely look into this,” he said. – The Star Online