Tollywood, the Telugu version of Hollywood, is wildly popular in India, especially in the Southern states. It is the second largest section of Indian movies, the first being Bollywood, the Hindi version of Hollywood. Tollywood, like any other major film industry, has been accused of various crimes, such as racism, sex scandals, and drug use, but no accusation or investigation has been as pointed and large as this one. This 460 million dollar industry is now facing public backlash and major government scrutiny.
Police officers and officials at the Telangana Enforcement Department have busted what seems to be the largest drug racket in Hyderabad. This gang was supplying large amounts of LSD and MDMA to wealthy students, actors, and business men. The price of LSD and MDMA are very high for Indian standards, costing around 27 US dollar per tab, while the average income in India is only around 1,500 US dollars. The price is very high because the average purity and chemical concentrations in drugs such as cocaine, MDMA, and other substances have been steadily increasing over the past decades. A daily habit of LSD can be very expensive, and thus only affordable by the wealthy inhabitants. The leader of this drug ring, nicknamed Calvin, was arrested by police and interrogated until he began providing precious information regarding the workings of his network, including some high profile names in the entertainment industry.
He stated that most of his drugs were bought online via the Deep Web, as vendors from the European countries were manufacturing and selling high-quality drugs for a much cheaper price than they would fetch in India. He would deliver the drugs to the actor’s chauffeur, who would be told that they were delivering “medicine”. This was to keep the driver in the dark and prevent the possibility of the driver stealing the product or leaking information to the police. The most startling fact was that one of Tollywood’s largest event managers, a man who goes by the name Piyoosh, was arrested and convicted of selling these drugs to school children and college students in the surrounding areas.
Calvin states that actors and key players in the entertainment industry are the best people to sell to. The lifestyles of actors include numerous tours, many hours of constant acting, and many sleepless nights. The only way to distract themselves is to alter their state of mind, allowing for a booming drug trade in Tollywood. These personalities are also highly revered and respected, and thus are mainly immune to police prosecution. Wealthy students are also good customers, as many have ample amounts of money to spend, are not invested in school, and are looking to have a good time with friends on the weekend.
Recently, the Indian police forces have been cracking down on the drug trade, closing hookah bars and other smoking outlets. Many lower income persons and store owners have been affected, but the upper-class has been mostly exempt from this crackdown. According to sources, the wealthy children and their parents come in closed cars, bribe police, and leave with large quantities of drugs. The police don’t mind and the drug dealers in the area are very comfortable with the business. Needless to say, the crackdown by the Telangana Enforcement Department was out of the ordinary and came as a shock to most people.
More college students are entering the drug trade, as the rise of Darknet Markets have made buying drugs in bulk a lot easier. Good connections with local police officers can buy you a legal pass and allow you to operate without a hitch.
This is just the beginning of the government crack down, and more raids will come. How many big actors will be tied in the drug trade, we can only guess. Although many actors are clean and have no involvement, many actors are key players in the drug trade and regularly buy drugs for themselves and their families. More stories will develop, so please stay tuned for further updates.