Updated Police in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have questioned Amazon India executives under narcotics laws, after uncovering a marijuana smuggling operation centered around the e-commerce website.
On November 14, police allege, two men caught possessing 20kg of cannabis were using Amazon India to sell their product across state lines. The vendors, who had registered as sellers on Amazon, advertised the product as sugar substitute ingredient Stevia leaves, but upon inspection the product turned out to be an entirely different and much less legal weed. Police believe the dealers had already moved approximately 1,000 kilograms of dope – valued at $148,000 – on Jeff Bezos' digital tat bazaar.
The very next day, the police summoned local Amazon execs to explain their role in the smuggling operation. A senior police official justified the action by pointing out that Amazon has vast artificial intelligence capabilities and should therefore have been able to nip the crimes in the bud.
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"There is the involvement of Amazon at many levels in this marijuana delivery, from providing logistical support to delivery," said senior police official Manoj Singh.
By Saturday November 20, Madhya Pradesh police had questioned senior Amazon execs with offences under India's narcotics laws. There is no suggestion that Amazon India staff were personally involved in the sale.
A post on the Bhind Police Facebook page states that a case against an undisclosed number of executives was registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
Back in 2018, El Reg informed Amazon that sellers in the UK were advertising weed for sale. The firm told us at the time: "All Marketplace sellers must follow our selling guidelines, and those who don't will be subject to action including potential removal of their account. The products in question are no longer available." ®
Updated at 08:58 UTC, 22 November 2021 to add:
Amazon got in touch to say: "Amazon, as a matter of company policy, extends full cooperation to law enforcement agencies in the event of any bad actor operating on the Amazon.in marketplace.
"We have shared, and will continue to share information that law enforcement needs in their investigation of this case.
"Amazon has zero-tolerance for misconduct and takes strict action against individuals or third parties for violation of our policies or applicable laws. Amazon.in is a third-party marketplace (intermediary) where sellers offer their products to customers directly.
"Contractually, sellers operating on the Amazon.in marketplace, as well as delivery partners, service providers and their associates, are required to comply with all applicable laws."
Amazon added: "Reports that Amazon executives have been... charged as part of this case are incorrect and we are not aware of any Amazon executives being named in the investigation."
Updated at 10:31 pm, 22 November 2021 to add:
Amazon has contacted The Register with news its execs were questioned, not charged. The story was edited at this time to reflect that fact.