Pubdate: Mon, 05 Sep 2005
Source: Hindustan Times (India)
Copyright: 2005, Hindustan Times Ltd.
Author: Sutirtho Patranobis
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Drug-Pushers and addicts, striking deals in those dim-lit lounge bars and 
high-end restaurants, are under watch.

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), that has been keeping an eye on lounge 
bars and restaurants in south Delhi, late on Thursday picked up Dev Chopra, 
a cocaine pusher and addict, from Olive Bar and Kitchen in Mehrauli.

Dev, a diploma holder in interior designing, was nabbed with 15 gm of 
cocaine valued at Rs 60,000 as he was waiting for his customer - a 
Mumbai-based model, according to information the NCB had.

"It was around midnight when we reached the restaurant. About 30 people 
were still around. Dev was waiting for his customer. This was the first 
time an Indian has been arrested for peddling cocaine by NCB's Delhi zone," 
sources said.

The owner of the restro-bar, famous for its Italian and Mediterranean 
cuisine, A.D. Singh, told a TV channel on Friday that it was an 
"unfortunate incident". He added: "You don't search your customers when 
they come in. So, how do you know they are carrying drugs on them?"

Sunil Khanna, chief operating officer of Olive Bar and Kitchen, said Dev 
was not a "regular" at the restaurant. "He didn't even have reservation 
last night," he said.

Lounge bars have lately become dens for substance abuse, especially over 
the weekends, an NCB officer said. Just like the ones in Mumbai. Though the 
authorities have started clamping down in Mumbai, the Provogue drug case an 
instance, the party scene in Delhi so far had just been under surveillance.

"There are around 25-30 lounge bars in the city. Usually, these places are 
booked for private parties during the weekends. Bouncers, equipped with 
phones, are posted at the entrance. Entry is prohibited.

Cokeheads In Trouble

Our teams could only carry out informal enquiries and find that cocaine is 
the drug of choice," the officer said. He indicated that some fashion 
designers and hair-stylists were among the "regular cocaine abusers".

The ambience of lounge bars - dim lights, psychedelic setting and small 
dance floors - suits the cocaine clientele just fine. "The drug has largely 
moved out of crowded discos and moved into lounge and restro-bars where the 
atmosphere is more relaxed. Those who are not part of the network - which 
only exists by word of mouth - find it impossible to break into it," the 
officer said. NCB also has information that cocaine has found its way into 
high-end kitty parties. "Recently, we caught the wife of an industrialist 
with cocaine." Dev, who assists his father in an interior design shop in 
central Delhi, has been remanded in judicial custody for two weeks.
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