With New Year’s Eve approaching attempts to smuggle party drugs are increasing, the latest being on Sunday night when the Mumbai Customs seized 5kg of methaqualone worth Rs74.5 lakh, while the carrier was on his way to Kuala Lumpur.
The Customs has in the past four months foiled 12 attempts to smuggle party drugs.
An Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the Mumbai Customs, headed by deputy commissioner of Customs Sameer Wankhede, recovered the drug which was concealed inside three doormats and a invisible bottom in a suitcase. The AIU stopped Nithyanandam Sundaram, 32, a Chennai resident, while he was checking in to board a Malaysia Airlines flight for Kuala Lumpur on Sunday night.
The AIU team found three strangely shaped doormats in Sundaram’s bag. Officials removed the stitches only to find found 3kg powder concealed inside. Officials then discovered a specially made bottom in the bag, where another 2kg of powder was hidden.
A chemical analysis test confirmed that it was methaqualone, a party drug. Sundaram was arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act on early on Monday and remanded to judicial custody till December 7. His advocate Ravi Hirani said that his client did not know about the drug in the bag. He had agreed to carry the bag for Rs10,000.
Sundaram told AIU officials that he came from Chennai with another person. “On reaching outside the Mumbai airport, his accomplice handed him the bag and left,” said a Customs official. The Customs is looking out for Sundaram’s accomplice. From Kuala Lumpur, the drug was to be taken to another Malaysian city Kota Bharu. “Most of it is going to Malaysia, which is suspected to have become transit point,” said the official. “From Malaysia, the drugs are suspected to be further smuggled to Bangkok and Singapore.”