Narco Terrorism

  • This term was first used in 1983 by former President of Peru to describe campaigns by drug traffickers using terrorist methods such as use of car bombs, assassinations and kidnapping against anti-narcotics police in Colombia and Peru.
  • The term has come to be associated with terrorist groups and activities globally and esp. in Central (Golden Crescent) & South-East Asia (Golden triangle).
  • Return of Taliban has heightened illegal opium cultivation in Afghanistan. Opium cultivation and sale is the main source of financing for Taliban. Drones are being used to air-drop narcotics and weapons in J&K, Punjab and bordering states.
  • Narco-terrorism combines two criminal activities: drug trafficking & terrorist violence.
  • Suspension of democracy and arrival of military junta has increased cultivation of heroine in Myanmar’s Shan Province. These drugs easily land in India through the free border regime India shares with Myanmar, Rohingya refugees and insurgent groups in the North-East region.
  • Increasingly, terrorists are looking at synthetic drugs. Ex. LSD, Methamphetamine etc. Terrorists use basic chemistry and precursor chemicals to make these.


  • Large size of the country.
  • Huge pharmaceutical industry.
  • Shortage of staff and equipment to tackle illicit traffic of drugs in anti-narcotics body Narcotics Control.
  • Increased use of dark web and cryptocurrency such as bitcoin by drug peddlers and buyers.

Impact of Narco – Terrorism

  • Helps terrorist organizations raise huge sums of money with minimum cost for their activities.
  • Money from narco-sale is used to fuel militancy.
  • Destroys youth by making them addicted to drugs.
  • Sharing of syringes and injectables increases the risks of diseases such as HIV in youth.
  • Political, ideological, religious, and ethno-nationalist motives generally associated with terrorism are secondary to economic gains associated with it.
  • Undermines financial security by generating black money, hawala transactions, money laundering and large cash economy enables cross border terrorist activities and establishment of links with underworld as gains can be channelized through hawala routes.Pakistan, particularly ISI, has realized vast damaging potential of money laundering, hawala and counterfeit currency to sustain subversive activities.
  • Pakistan has systematically aided and promoted narcotic trade to fund terrorist outfits & underworld to destabilize our financial system and economy.
  • Golden triangle produces over 1000 tons of opium which is refined into very high-grade heroin. Due to ineffective surveillance and enforcement, it finds its way into India. A clear indicator of the likely illegal narcotic trade in the North-East is the high incidence of drug addiction and abuse in Manipur, Mizoram, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Open Indo-Nepal border is the main source of Hashish.
  • Drug money acquired from shipments abroad by ISI and its cohorts collected from drug pushing cartels is launched through various placements and made available to its underworld links in Gulf and other countries, from where it moves through banking and other channels to Islamic fundamentalist organisations over the entire country.
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Some Instances

  • IMU (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) in Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad in Palestine, Hizballah in Lebanon, and RIRA (Real Irish Republican Army) in Northern Ireland.
  • Islamist terrorist groups in India supported by Pakistan ISI are reported to be active in drug trafficking along Kashmir Valley and in other parts.
  • Taliban’s biggest source of funding has been through the illicit opium trade.

Steps by Government

  • Setting up of Narco-coordination centre: It is a four-tier district level scheme in 2019.
  • Seizure Information Management System: An e-portal developed under NDPS Act for better coordination of all drug law enforcement agencies.
  • NDPS Act and Narcotics Control Bureau for enforcing the law.
  • National Policy for Drug Demand Reduction by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for reducing addiction among people.  

Way Forward

  • Empowering of Narcotics Control Bureau with adequate manpower and technology.
  • Collaboration between banking institutions to check financing of drug crimes.
  • Humanising of the NDPS Act to sensitively view small crimes of addiction and making it stringent for drug cartels.Use of technology to track drugs offences.
  • Provision of social defence mechanisms and counselling in areas prone to drugs abuse.
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