Tollywood Drug Racket

When Stars Get High

The arrest of Calvin Mascarenhas, a boy-next-door who rose from a middle-class family to Hyderabad’s infamous drug dealer in 2017, was one of the sensational cases of the year. Sudhakar reported on the involvement of Tollywood celebrities who were brought down from their bungalows to the claustrophobic offices of the special task force on allegations of dealings with Calvin. The case is still hot in 2021 with ED summoning 10 Telugu film personalities in the case. So far, no charge sheet had been filed against any celebrity.

Making this case a center to explore the extent of proliferation of drugs in the city, Sudhakar detailed statistics on the number of drug cases and the means to stop the people who are behind them. Sudhakar also wrote about the records police had missed in a drug case that involved Calvin’s past misdemeanors in 2013 and how they failed to work on a case made against Calvin in 2016. He also exposed the shortcomings of the surveillance on the internet where online pharmacies buy and sell drugs with the help of shady courier services.

The shortcomings of the administration didn’t end there as, in a case of mistaken identity, Sudhakar wrote about a software professional from Bengaluru who was shown in newspapers and TV channels as Calvin much to his dismay.

One of the biggest revelations from the case is how the darknet was being used to obtain drugs from all parts of the world with just a click. Sudhakar wrote about the efforts of the local police to shut down Darknet markets, private vendor shops, and invite-only and referral markets that sell drugs online. These illegal sites run unregulated from the USA, Europe and other countries and had many buyers in India.

Sudhakar reported about data mining experts who were brought in to analyze the foreign trips of the celebrities to figure out their habits. Around 17 bars and pubs in Hyderabad were narrowed down as hubs for addicts and peddlers.

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