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

Amit Shah made the remarks as authorities are reportedly looking at three Indian crypto exchanges for allegedly facilitating transactions of illegal drugs.

AccessTimeIconOct 27, 2022 at 1:35 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 27, 2022 at 4:39 p.m. UTC

Amit Shah, India's home minister and a close aide to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said drug smuggling through the darknet and cryptocurrencies has increased, as has terrorism financing, 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.

More than 13 tons of seized drugs valued at $76 million (623 crore INR) were destroyed in the presence of Shah on Wednesday, ANI reported.

According to Shah, between 2006-2013 and 2014-2022, registered drug-smuggling cases rose 152% to 3,172 from 1,257 and the amount of drugs seized during those periods rose by a similar percent.

Shah's comments coincided with an Economic Times report that said three cryptocurrency exchanges have come under the scrutiny of Indian investigative agencies for allegedly facilitating illegal drug transactions. The report cited a senior government official who didn't reveal the names of the companies.

The agencies included the Enforcement Directorate, a government agency that fights financial crime, and the income tax department. They were alerted by the Financial Intelligence Unit, which alleged illicit drug transactions between 2019 and 2021 worth $3.4 billion (28,000 crore INR) were facilitated by some of those exchanges, the report said.

During the past few weeks, authorities have conducted several inspections, raids or searches of crypto exchanges.


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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.