Bhuj/New Delhi/Amaravati: In the single largest heroin haul in India, authorities seized around 3,000 kg of the drug, believed to be from Afghanistan and likely worth Rs 21,000 crore in the global market, from two containers at the Mundra port in Gujarat's Kutch district, an official said on Tuesday.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) initiated a money-laundering probe into the haul, among the biggest across the globe, while the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which seized the 2,988.21 kg heroin, arrested a couple that runs an import firm from Chennai, officials said.
Reacting to the massive drug seizure, the Congress wondered as to why Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, who hail from Gujarat, were unable to break the drug syndicate.
The value of the seized heroin per kilogram was about Rs 5-7 crore in the international market, an official said. The ED is studying the details of the case and proceeding forward under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), he said.
The agency has also sought details from DRI on the seizure which took place around September 15. ED sources said the agency will investigate the people or syndicate behind this heroin smuggling, identify proceeds of crime, and may also attach assets of the accused if required.
Official sources said the consignment was imported by a trading company registered in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, as semi-processed talc stones. The narcotic is stated to be of Afghanistan origin and was shipped from Bandar Abbas Port in Iran to the Mundra Port.
"A total of 2988.21 kg of heroin -- 1999.57 kg heroin from one container and 988.64 kg heroin from the second container -- was seized under the provisions of the NDPS (Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act," another source said.
DRI conducted searches in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Gandhidham, and Mandvi in Gujarat, following which two persons were arrested. The involvement of some Afghan nationals is also under the scanner of the DRI, the sources said.
The importer firm, identified by official sources as Aashi Trading Company, is alleged to be run by M Sudhakar and his wife G Durga Purna Vaishali. The DRI arrested them from Chennai recently. They were brought to Bhuj town and produced before a special court for NDPS cases.
The court granted their 10 days' custody to the DRI. The Vijayawada police said in a statement that "so far, no activity, except using the Vijayawada house address for obtaining licences (by the wife for import and export), has come to notice. However, further enquiries are being conducted".
Police Commissioner B Srinivasulu told PTI that their teams "conducted a thorough investigation and except the use of Vijayawada house address (for obtaining licence), so far, no activity has been detected". After getting credible information that the consignment is containing drugs from Afghanistan, DRI officers seized two containers and sent samples for examination a few days back.
A forensic analysis of the seized substance confirmed the presence of heroin, official sources said. The Congress attacked the Centre over the drug haul and asked how such a drug syndicate was operating in India "under the nose" of the government as well as the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera also questioned the government over why the position of a full-time NCB chief has been lying vacant for 18 months now and alleged that the NCB had been reduced to play "retail politics" with BJP's rivals.
Why is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, who are from Gujarat, unable to break this drug syndicate, Khera said. He alleged that the smuggling of drugs into India has increased substantially over the past few months, and this has been going on for a few years now. Khera claimed that over the last few years, the Gujarat coast has become the "favourite route" for smuggling narcotic drugs into India from Pakistan, Iran, or Afghanistan.
He cited various instances of drug seizures off the Gujarat coast to claim that it had become the "favourite route" for smuggling. "
Are these revelations just the tip of the iceberg? Is this an instance of 10 consignments being let go and one being caught just to show that the agencies are working and to ensure 'perception management," he asked.