Snake handler holds up an Indian baby cobra hatchling after it emerged from an egg. A drug prepared from cobra venom is becoming popular in Delhi, giving party-goers a new high, narcotics officials say. Image for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi:  A drug prepared from cobra venom is becoming popular in Delhi, giving party-goers a new high, narcotics officials say.

"The sale of drugs which have cobra venom is increasing at rave parties and in discos," a senior officer of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) said on condition of anonymity.

"These drugs enhance sensation and boost energy so that revellers can dance for longer hours.

"The sales have increased in Delhi and NCR [national capital region] and are consumed at hushed-up parties."

Delhi Police on Monday night seized half-a-litre of venom extracted from cobras and other reptiles, which are classified as highly endangered species under the Wildlife Act.

The raid, at Anand Vihar inter-state bus terminus in east Delhi, was conducted following a tip-off from People for Animals (PFA), an animal welfare organisation.

"Police seized five cobras just two days before Valentine's Day," Sourabh Gupta, a wildlife activist with PFA, said.

"Similar seizures were conducted before Diwali and New Year. The drugs are commonly used in Delhi and NCR; many are commonly called K-72 and K-76."

He added that half-a-litre of venom costs millions of rupees in the international market.

To extract that amount, traffickers would have killed as many as 100 cobras in violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Indian Wildlife Act.

The venom is processed into a powder, a pinch of which is used in a drink.

"Due to their dwindling numbers, cobras, which were on Schedule IV in 2006, are now placed on Schedule I of the act, thus according them very high protection," Gupta said.

"But they are still being widely traded."

According to officials, apart from the deadly K-72 and K-76, drugs like cocaine, ephedrine, ecstasy, rohypnol and LSD, all of which are labelled party drugs, see a 5 to 10 per cent spike in sales before any festive occasion.

While the party drugs come at a price of Rs2,000-Rs5,000 (Dh150-Dh370) per pill, a pinch of K-72 or K-76 costs Rs20,000-Rs25,000.

Delhi Police said the drug scene in the capital is not as serious as in cities like Mumbai.

"Use of party drugs by youths in Delhi is much less than in Mumbai and other metros," narcotics officer Sanjay Bhatia said.