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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Record heroin haul in Kutch: Probe expands, Chennai couple in custody

The heroin believed to be from Afghanistan was discovered at Mundra port in Kutch district on September 16 in two shipping containers imported from Bandar Abbas Port in Iran, by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) Ahmedabad zone officials, acting on a tip-off.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
Updated: September 22, 2021 2:15:15 am
The company had declared the imported consignment as “semi-processed talc stones” which had originated from Afghanistan. (Representational)

IN WHAT MIGHT be one of the single biggest hauls of heroin in the country — amounting to nearly 3,000 kg, worth Rs 21,000 crore — a court in Bhuj has sent a couple arrested from Chennai on 10-day remand. Six persons, including Afghan nationals, held in Delhi with cocaine and heroin in their possession on Tuesday are being probed for possible links to the case, sources said.

The heroin believed to be from Afghanistan was discovered at Mundra port in Kutch district on September 16 in two shipping containers imported from Bandar Abbas Port in Iran, by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) Ahmedabad zone officials, acting on a tip-off.

Sources said multiple searches are ongoing in Ahmedabad, Gandhidham and Mandvi of Gujarat as well as Delhi and Chennai, and that “involvement of Afghan nationals in the drug racket might be possible”.

Officials said the consignment had been officially declared as ‘semi-processed talc stones’ and was meant for Aashi Trading Company run by the Chennai couple, Machavaram Sudhakar and wife Vaishali Govindaraju Durga Purna, and registered in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. The heroin was found concealed between stacks of the talc stones.

The six people held on Tuesday were detained by the Delhi zone of the DRI in a separate case. Sources said they were probing a link, as well as where the heroin consignment, weighing 2,988.219 kg exactly, was headed.

Special Public Prosecutor Kalpesh Goswami told The Indian Express that so far there were only two arrests. “Physical verification of the containers showed there were three layers made in each of the bags kept in the containers, where the drug consignment was mixed in layers of talc stones stacked upon each other. We are trying to probe the drug nexus from the two accused.”

With Aashi’s GST registration showing a Vijayawada address, the Vijayawada police released a statement Tuesday, saying, “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.”

The Enforcement Directorate is likely to register a case of money laundering in connection with the drug haul. “Narco smuggling is one of the biggest modes of generating black money and laundering across the world. We will soon register a money laundering case in the matter,” an ED official said.

The Adani Group issued a statement on behalf of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) saying a port operator’s role was “limited to running the port”. “APSEZ is a port operator providing services to shipping lines. We have no policing authority over the containers or the millions of tonnes of cargo that pass through the terminals in Mundra or any of our ports,” it said.

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