₹376-crore heroin seized from Mundra port in Gujarat
The Gujarat anti-terrorist squad (ATS) has seized 75 kg of heroin estimated to be worth ₹376 crore from a container at the Mundra port in Kutch district.
The Gujarat anti-terrorist squad (ATS) has seized 75 kg of heroin estimated to be worth ₹376 crore from a container at the Mundra port in Kutch district, the state police said on Tuesday.
The Gujarat ATS has been carrying out search operations for the past few days at Mundra port after receiving intel about contraband being shipped in containers.
“Gujarat ATS DIG Deepan Bhadran received input from the Punjab Police about contraband being imported in a container at Mundra port about one-and-a-half to two months ago. We have seized 75.3 kg of heroin worth ₹376.5 crore,” said Ashish Bhatia, director general of police (DGP), Gujarat. “It was smuggled on a ship from Dubai and concealed in textile material. The contraband was to be sent to Punjab.”
The shipment was allegedly sourced from Ajman Free Zone in the UAE and it arrived at the Mundra port on May 13. “The supplier of the contraband-filled container cargo is Gree Forest General Trading in the UAE and the Indian receiver is Kolkata-based Jovial Container Lines, which has an office in Gandhidham in Kutch,” said Bhatia.
The Gujarat Police in a joint operation with their Punjab counterpart conducted raids at the All Cargo Container Freight Station at Mundra port and found 75.3 kg of heroin hidden among 4,000 kg of imported clothing material.
During a close inspection of 540 fabric rolls kept in the container, the heroin powder was found inside 64 of them, said Bhatia.
“A cloth was wrapped on long cylindrical pipes made of cardboard. Drug dealers had created a cavity by putting a plastic pipe of a larger diameter on the cardboard pipe. Heroin was filled in the cavity and then sealed tightly using carbon tapes so that it goes undetected in X-ray check,” he added.
Another reason for police to get suspicious was that the cargo was lying unclaimed for a long time and there were attempts to re-export it to another location. The container was filled only one-third of its total capacity and given the freight cost and other charges for transportation for such a long distance, their suspicion grew further, a senior police officer said.
In September last year, the largest seizure of narcotics in the country was reported at Mundra port when a drugs consignment weighing 3,000 kg and worth ₹21,000 crore was seized by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. The matter was handed over to the National Investigation Agency to probe terror financing angles.
In February this year, a joint operation by the Narcotics Control Bureau and the Indian Navy led to the seizure of 750 kg of drugs from a ship off the Gujarat coast, worth over ₹2,000 crore.
This year, Gujarat police have cracked six cases of drug smuggling so far, seizing 717 kg of contraband worth ₹3,586 crore and arrested 23 persons, including 16 Pakistani nationals and three from Afghanistan.
“The drug mafias use whatever channel is available to try and smuggle the contraband. The checking in Gujarat is very strict and we have a good information network. So be it fishing boats or containers, we have nabbed all of them. Police have intercepted and seized drugs from various ports be it Kandla, Pipavav, Jhakhau, Okha, Nhava Sheva in Maharashtra or ports in Chennai and West Bengal,” said Bhatia.
Gujarat, which handles nearly one-third of the country’s sea cargo through its ports, is emerging as a major destination for interstate drug lords, who are using the state’s infrastructure to smuggle narcotics into the country and even engage in international drug trafficking in some cases, a senior police officer said.
“Gujarat has emerged as a transit hub for smuggling drugs to northern states and even overseas to African nations in the last four to five years,” said a senior Gujarat police officer, requesting anonymity. “With tighter security at land borders, the smugglers are using the Gujarat’s sea route.”