Pak-based gangster Haji Salim, with links to Dawood, trying to revive LTTE: Officials
Haji Salim is considered the brain behind multimillion dollar drugs network in Pakistan and the Indian Ocean
Indian agencies have found that Haji Salim, a Karachi based gangster, is linked to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and playing a key role in attempts to revive the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) insurgent group in Sri Lanka and India through large-scale smuggling of drugs and arms, people familiar with the development said.
Considered the brain behind multimillion dollar drugs network in Pakistan and the Indian Ocean, Salim has been seen at Dawood’s Clifton Road residence in Karachi often and it is suspected they both use each other’s resources for smuggling, with active support of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s spy agency, they said, seeking anonymity.
The agencies including the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Directorate of Revenue and Intelligence (DRI) are working on identifying Indian contacts of Salim as well as Ibrahim’s D-Company to dismantle the entire criminal network.
In a joint operation last month, the NCB and the navy seized 2,500kg high purity methamphetamine worth ₹12,000 crore sourced by intercepting a so-called mother ship in the Indian ocean. The consignment originated from the death crescent (a term coined by home minister Amit Shah for the smuggling route of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan) and was sent from Makran coast in Balochistan province.
Last week, while filing a charge sheet against 13 people in a probe related to revival of LTTE in India, the NIA said Sri Lankan drug mafia members were sourcing drugs from Salim. “The accused used various foreign WhatsApp numbers to carry out the clandestine trade,” it said.
Salim’s name has also figured in a charge sheet filed on Friday in the smuggling of 40kg of heroin and pistols using a boat called Al-Soheli in December last year, in which 10 Pakistanis were arrested by Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad.
“Even though D-Company’s network was eliminated by Indian agencies in the late 90s, it is possible his old contacts may be working with Salim’s syndicate as the drug trade via maritime and land route has exploded after Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021. Salim has been seen at Dawood’s residence in Karachi and is protected by armed guards round the clock,” said an officer, who didn’t want to be named.
Salim works with ISI and terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba and oversees the smuggling to India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and some Middle East countries, HT first reported on April 30.
His cartel operates many clandestine laboratories in Balochistan, where heroin packets from Afghanistan are labelled with different symbols or inscriptions such as ‘555’, ‘999’, ‘Unicorn’ and ‘Dragon’.
It is estimated that 70% of total drug trafficking in India takes place through sea routes and Salim’s network is behind a majority of the consignments.
“The modus operandi used by Salim’s cartel is similar to that of D-Company’s in 90s, where exchange of contraband took place mid-sea from a mother boat (large vessels) to small fishing boats and dhows,” said a second officer.
“The maritime drug trafficking in Arabian sea and Bay of Bengal poses new challenges to drug law enforcement agencies and they anticipate further increase of this route by international drug trafficking syndicates operating from Pakistan and Afghanistan,” a special edition of NCB’s annual report 2022 said.
The government has given additional funds to the NCB and other agencies for enhanced monitoring of Indian waters, and 100% checking of suspected containers are being done at ports.
The NCB has also identified locations to install mobile vehicle scanners at international borders and inland locations, said the first officer cited earlier. Subsequently, the home ministry is exploring technology to scan containers.
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