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To India via Africa: Drug cartels chart new route | Hyderabad News – Times of India


HYDERABAD: In the past one month, 10 peddlers from African nations were caught in Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru airports trying to smuggle in 53 kilos of heroin worth over Rs 300 crore.
Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) sleuths, who played a key role in a majority of these arrests, believe that disruption of peddling network in Afghanistan-Pakistan-India border areas due to pandemic and lockdown in India have forced the gangs to opt for a circuitous smuggling route from Afghanistan to India via Africa.

Two women peddlers from Uganda and Zambia, who were caught by DRI sleuths at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport on Saturday and Sunday in possession of 12 kilos of heroin, arrived on a week-long business visa to Hyderabad. While it was first trip to India for one of them, the second peddler had visited Mumbai in the last week of April for a week which the enforcement agencies now believe was a trip for a similar purpose.
“The two women are mules. Their stay was booked in small hotels in the city for less than a week and the handover of heroin is supposed to happen at these hotels. One of the peddlers said she came on a business visa to see Charminar,” a DRI official said.
Since May first week, eight peddlers from Africa were caught trying to smuggle 41 kilos of heroin in Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai airports. Customs Overseas Intelligence Network and DRI officials noticed the activity of heroin smuggling through passenger flights via Doha from Johannesburg in late April after a majority of the states in India started imposing lockdown to control the spread of the pandemic.
“We suspect that pandemic has adversely affected the Afghan-Pak-India across the border land route heroin smuggling activity and the lockdown has made it difficult to ship the contraband to metro cities. So to cash in on the demand, some gangs operating from either Delhi or Mumbai took the longer route involving air travel,” said a senior customs official.
A Chennai customs official said the contraband is suspected to have been made in Africa after receiving opium from Afghanistan via Iran, Iraq and East African nations with the help of Somalian pirates. “We suspect that heroin seized from all African peddlers at various international airports in the past one month was made at the same place,” a DRI official said. The agencies are now trying to zero in on Indian gang members.

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