Mundra port drugs seizure: NIA raids 5 locations in NCR
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is carrying raids at five locations in the National Capital Region (NCR) on Tuesday in connection with the 3,000 kg Afghan heroin seizure from Mundra Port last month, people familiar with the development said. The drug haul, worth ₹21,000 crore as estimated by agencies, was the largest ever seizure by Indian agencies. A narco-terror link is being probed in the delivery as it was sent to India from Kandahar after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
The consignment was intercepted by the Directorate of Revenue and Intelligence (DRI) on September 14 and 15 on the basis of specific intelligence that high-quality heroin was being smuggled in two containers from Afghanistan to Gujarat’s Mundra port via Iran’s Bandar Abbas port. The two containers had 1,999.58 kg and 988.64 kg heroin packed, layered between the talc to avoid detection by security and customs officials. HT exclusively reported the seizure on September 20.
At least eight people, including Chennai couple Govindaraju Durga Purna Vaishali and Machavaram Sudhakar, who allegedly imported the heroin concealed in the semi-processed talc stones through their Vijaywada registered firm (Aashi Trading Company) from a Kandahar based company, four Afghan nationals, an Uzbek woman have been arrested by the DRI so far.
The ministry of home affairs transferred the case to NIA last week to probe the Taliban-Pakistan angle.
Officials cited above said among those being raided on Tuesday are some individuals having Afghan links.
Vaishali and Sudhakar are said to be small players as they got only ₹10 lakh to ₹12 lakh commission for allegedly allowing to use their talc stones containers for smuggling heroin. A larger network of Afghan nationals is suspected to be behind the consignment, said an officer.
Investigators have so far found that Vaishali and Sudhakar were taking instructions from some persons based in Afghanistan and Iran. “Their role in smuggling drugs previously in the garb of imports is being investigated,” said a second officer.
According to a UN estimate, there are 800 to 900 mid and high-level drugs traffickers/syndicates in Afghanistan. Many even having full-fledged labs to turn opium poppy into high-quality heroin.
Kandahar is among the provinces along with Helmand, Badghis, Uruzgan, and Faryab where the country’s major opium poppy cultivation takes place.
The UN data suggests that potential opium production in Afghanistan in 2020 was estimated at 6,300 tonnes and the average opium yield was 28.0 kilograms per hectare. The country produces over 85% of the world’s opium.
The total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was estimated at 224,000 hectares in 2020, which represented an increase of 37% or 61,000 hectares when compared to 2019.