Heroin smuggling into India from Afghanistan and Pakistan has increased over the last two years with West Africans often arrested as carriers, says a new State Department report.
"This trend may continue as the border between Pakistan and India opens up to increasing commerce and travel," warns the 2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released on Friday by Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs David T Johnson.
Although there have been fewer large seizures over the past year, the number of smaller seizures associated with couriers attempting to travel through India has increased, it said.
India is also increasingly emerging as a manufacturer and supplier of licit opiate/psychotropic pharmaceuticals (LOPPS), both organic and synthetic, to the Middle East, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the report said.
India's strategic location, between Southeast and Southwest Asia, the two main sources of illicit opium, make it a heroin trans-shipment area. Insurgent groups operating in the Northeast finance their activities through smuggling of drugs from Burma into India.
Much of the hashish and cannabis intended for international markets is smuggled into India from Nepal, the report said. In addition to its controlled licit opium production, criminal groups produce heroin illicitly for both the domestic addict market and for the international market.
The Indian government continually tightens licit opium diversion controls, but some licit opium is nevertheless diverted into illicit markets. New Delhi's estimate is less than 10 percent of production.
There is no evidence that significant quantities of opium or its derivatives diverted from India's fields reaches the US, the report said.
In 2007, Indian government seized 2,226 kg of licit opium, which had been diverted, or was cultivated in contravention of Indian law. As of Sep 30, 2008, 643 kg of diverted/diversion threatened licit opium had been seized.
Although ephedrine seizures within India were down in 2007, one seizure in the US in September 2007 found 523 kg of ephedrine shipped through commercial carrier from India through the US and headed to Mexico, the report said.
The shipment was disguised as green tea extract. In the fall of 2005, Indian Customs seized five international mail packages that were found to contain a kg or more of Southwest Asian heroin destined for individuals in the US, with controlled deliveries leading to the arrest of five individuals in the US.