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Delhi hub for drug trafficking?

Indian enforcement agencies say that international drug cartels, particularly Nigerians, are increasingly using Delhi as a transit point for drug trafficking. In the past 10 months alone, 27 Nigerians have been arrested by various law enforcing agencies.

india Updated: Oct 27, 2005 17:38 IST

Indian enforcement agencies say that international drug cartels, particularly Nigerians, are increasingly using Delhi as a transit point for drug trafficking.

In the past 10 months alone, 27 Nigerians have been arrested by various law enforcing agencies with 144 kg of heroin and 760 gm of cocaine in the capital.

"We cannot say how much illegal consignments must have missed our detection," says a senior official of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

The biggest haul this year was when authorities recovered 35 kg of heroin worth Rs.350 million in the international market from three Nigerians over the weekend.

The consignment was hidden in shock absorbers of two-wheelers.

DRI sources said that narcotics smuggled from Afghanistan and Pakistan were in high demand in the international market and sold at exorbitant prices in Western countries.

"The failure of governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan to control the drug trade in their respective countries has led to an increase in drug trafficking in India, especially Delhi," the official said.

"Cartels are focussing on Delhi as it is the best connected city in South Asia and also a growing market in itself. Furthermore, these cartels are trying to establish linkages in other metros of the country, " he said.

Going just by figures alone, the DRI has seized 120 kg of heroin, of which 89 kg was recovered in Delhi this year. Last year, over 77 kg of heroin was seized by the agency.

A kilogram of heroin is sold for Rs. 10 million in the international market while a kg of cocaine can cost up to Rs. 5 million.

Sources suggest that these individuals act as "carriers" to smuggle narcotics from Afghanistan and Pakistan. They added that international cartels bring the "consignment" to Delhi and export it to Nigeria where it is further processed before being smuggled to countries in Europe.

"A huge quantity of these substances changes hands in Delhi," says A. Shankar Rao, director of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

Shankar said that poverty and lack of education in African countries had led to youth joining up in the illegal trade for quick lucre.

"Most of the arrested individuals are in the age group of 25-35 years and if deliveries are done without getting caught the profits are enormous."

Another instance of the flourishing drug racket here was unearthed when 17.62 kg of heroine worth Rs. 180 million was recovered at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport on September 14.

Interestingly, the consignment was divided into small packets of 100 gm each that were hidden inside children's books and ladies' shoes.

In this case, police arrested three Nigerians who had made several trips to Pakistan during their two-week stay in Kabul.

"The change in trend started this year as very few Nigerians were arrested last year. We have arrested five people this year although not a single Nigerian was arrested by the police in 2004," said A.S Cheema, deputy commissioner of police (DCP) in the narcotics and crime prevention cell.

In an effort to crack down on the trade, the customs department at Delhi airport has prepared an elaborate list of known traffickers and their associates, suspected of smuggling narcotics through Delhi.

First Published: Oct 27, 2005 17:38 IST