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Narco needle points north

Much of the recent coke and heroin haul in cities like Delhi has been traced to drug lords in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, intelligence agencies have said.

india Updated: Jun 19, 2006 02:00 IST

Much of the recent coke and heroin haul in cities like Delhi has been traced to drug lords in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, intelligence agencies have said.

They say Nigerians and prostitutes from some Central Asian countries operating in the main metros are part of this narco-terrorism racket.

“The source of heroin is Taliban -controlled Afghanistan. West Asia figures for money laundering. The proceeds from these go to finance terrorist outfits. We believe it to be a network of Nigerians and many prostitutes,” a Narcotics Control Bureau official said.

The NCB and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have in the past few months probed the “prostitution angle” to drug trafficking. They found that most drug rings now use prostitutes to deliver the goods, particularly cocaine, to avoid suspicion and detection.

“Delivery of cocaine by these so-called high-class prostitutes, escorts — mostly the ones from Central Asian Republics like Azerbaijan who pass off as Russians — is considered part of the service,” said an officer.

Nigerians and these prostitutes have also been found to pump counterfeit Indian and US currency into the country — most of fake currency comes from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Use of women to deliver or smuggle drugs has become an accepted practice in the past few years. Last week, the DRI’s Delhi zonal unit arrested a 32-year-old Filipino woman at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. She was trying to smuggle out two-kg heroin to Bangkok.

“In the last couple of years, we have made several arrests which prove the link between Afghanistan-based militants and Nigerians. This is the reason for the need to have stricter immigration checks on Nigerians who maintain a facade of being students but are mostly into drug trafficking,” said an officer.

A senior NCB officer said some Israelis were also under watch for illegal cannabis trade.

The Israelis, like Africans, come here on tourist visas. Some of them have been found to be overstaying in Himachal Pradesh.

“But their involvement is limited to smuggling cannabis for consumption. Unlike Nigerians, the Israelis have not been found to indulge in other crimes,” said the officer. The DRI and NCB want the Delhi Police to act strictly with Nigerian nationals.

“Landlords should verify their antecedents. Nigerians found overstaying should be booked under the Foreigners’ Act. Telecom companies should be asked to scan calls made to Nigeria and Afghanistan,” said the officer.

Intelligence officials say the foreign office needs to wake up to the threat.

“We need to decide whether Nigerian crude is more important than the increased drug trafficking which has obvious terror links,” said an officer.