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Business News/ News / India/  Police to question Amazon executives in probe over marijuana smuggling
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Police to question Amazon executives in probe over marijuana smuggling

An Amazon spokesperson, reacting to the marijuana smuggling bust, said it was investigating whether there was any non-compliance by a seller.

The police on Sunday arrested two men in the state with 20 kg of marijuana and found they were using Amazon India shopping website (REUTERS)Premium
The police on Sunday arrested two men in the state with 20 kg of marijuana and found they were using Amazon India shopping website (REUTERS)

Police in India's Madhya Pradesh state have summoned Amazon Inc's local executives as it investigates a case where the e-commerce platform was allegedly used for smuggling marijuana.

An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement it was investigating whether there was any non-compliance by a seller.

“The issue was notified to us, and we are currently investigating it. We assure full co-operation and support required to Investigating Authorities and Law Enforcement agencies with ongoing investigations to resolve the issue at the earliest," an Amazon spokesperson said.

The police on Sunday arrested two men in the state with 20 kg of marijuana and found they were using Amazon's India shopping website to order and smuggle the substance further to various states.

Smugglers used the Amazon India platform to order and deliver the drug, which was listed under the guise of dry stevia leaves, a natural food sweetener. The Amazon platform was allegedly used for 1,000 kilograms of such marijuana sales so far, worth $148,000, police alleged in its statement.

On Monday, Manoj Singh, a senior police official in the district, said Amazon executives have been asked to explain how their platform could be used for the sale of banned substances.

"The international company has the power of artificial intelligence, so it's a big thing happening on their platform," Singh said. "There is involvement of Amazon at many levels in this marijuana delivery - from providing logistical support to delivery."

"The lawyers from Amazon will probably visit us tomorrow."

“We do not allow the listing and sale of products which are prohibited under law to be sold in India," the statement said, adding the company would cooperate with the authorities.

The US company in India operates a marketplace website where sellers can list their products and Amazon also provides logistics and warehouse servicing to them.

Police officer Singh said his team also visited one of Amazon's delivery hubs in Gwalior city in Madhya Pradesh as part of the investigation to get details of alleged marijuana delivery consignments.

Indian authorities have in recent years intensified their efforts to crack down on illicit drugs. Many high-profile Indian actors and TV personalities have been under scrutiny from narcotics officials since last year.

Traders' body CAIT on Monday said the marijuana racket incident is a serious offence and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) should also take up the serious issue besides the Madhya Pradesh police.

CAIT (Confederation of All India Traders) has also urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan to ensure that the issue should not go into the air.

It is a serious threat to the security of the country in view of the fact that likewise even illegal arms or other illegal activities can also be conducted, it added.

CAIT National President BC Bhartia said police authorities of Madhya Pradesh should take the strictest action against Amazon under the NDPS Act and IPC, and immediately arrest the persons responsible for the operation and management of Amazon.in in India.

He added that by selling marijuana worth more than 1 crore and earning a commission of 66 per cent (i.e. over 66 Lakhs) through its e-commerce website, Amazon has contravened Section 20(b) of NDPS Act that says “produces, manufactures, possesses, sells, purchases, transports, imports inter-State, exports inter-State or uses cannabis, shall be punishable".

In the present case, Amazon has not only allowed the use of its platform for the sale of commercial quantities of banned drugs but has actively participated in the sale and earned huge profit to the tune of 66 per cent of the sale value, CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said.

They demanded that in addition to the people already arrested by Madhya Pradesh police, they must arrest the senior management of Amazon, who has facilitated the use of its platform for the sale of marijuana and hence, acted as a drug peddler.

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Published: 15 Nov 2021, 06:54 PM IST
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