HOW BIG CAR­TELS ARE AIR-DASHING DRUGS INTO CITY

Key in­ter­na­tional routes on the radar of mul­ti­ple govt agen­cies as Delhi air­port be­comes main land­ing ground for narco hauls

Mail Today - - NEWS - By Chayyanika Nigam in New Delhi

AMID the daily com­mo­tion of pas­sen­gers at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi In­ter­na­tional Air­port (IGIA), there is an un­seen scram­ble by sleuths of mul­ti­ple gov­ern­ment agen­cies these days.

This be­comes in­tense when cer­tain flights land on the tar­mac. The scram­ble has been trig­gered by in­ter­na­tional nar­cotics gangs us­ing Delhi as their tran­sit hub, and fre­quently chang­ing routes to es­cape de­tec­tion, a Mail To­day in­ves­ti­ga­tion has re­vealed.

“Drugs worth Rs100 crore have been seized from for­eign­ers at the air­port this year, up from Rs 80 crore in 2017. For the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year,

Delhi is ahead of all In­dian air­ports in terms of drug seizures,” said a se­nior of­fi­cial.

Agen­cies that are in­volved in the crack­down are Cus­toms, Nar­cotics Control Bureau (NCB), Direc­torate of Revenue In­tel­li­gence (DRI), Im­mi­gra­tion, Cen­tral In­dus­trial Se­cu­rity Force (CISF) and Delhi Po­lice. Spe­cial meet­ings are be­ing held to map flight routes and in­crease sur­veil­lance.

“As per seizures in the 18 months, key air routes to Delhi in­clude Brazil’s Sao Paulo via Ethiopia’s Cap­i­tal Ad­dis Ababa, Afghanistan via its Cap­i­tal Kabul, and Brazil to Qatar’s Cap­i­tal Doha/UAE’s Cap­i­tal Abu Dhabi,” said Madho Singh, zonal di­rec­tor of NCB's Delhi unit.

“Abusers in Delhi de­mand co­caine that is mainly pro­duced in Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries. It is trans­ported to Brazil and from there to Nige­ria’s La­gos or Togo’s Cap­i­tal Lome for pack­ag­ing. From there, it comes to In­dia. Heroin is com­ing from Afghanistan. Traf­fick­ers from Saudi Ara­bia and UAE also smug­gle them in choco­lates and check-in bag­gage,” Singh said.

THE SWALLOWERS

Smug­glers swal­low cap­sules con­tain­ing drugs and then don’t eat and drink dur­ing their jour­ney. Cap­sules are later re­trieved af­ter car­ri­ers are given lax­a­tives.

In Septem­ber, NCB ex­tracted 106 co­caine cap­sules from a 25year-old Brazil­ian woman’s stom­ach at Delhi’s air­port. She told of­fi­cials that her han­dler in Sao Paulo had asked her to reach a ho­tel in Karol Bagh and stay there till fur­ther or­ders. A Nige­rian na­tional was sup­posed to meet her. The woman had been promised USD 5,000 for suc­cess­fully de­liv­er­ing the con­sign­ment.

Co­caine car­ri­ers cre­ate hid­den cav­i­ties in their bag­gage. They also con­ceal it in food prod­ucts and milk pow­der.

PARTY DRUGS

Cus­toms of­fi­cials say party drugs such as methaqualone, metham­phetamine and pseudo ephedrine are gen­er­ally car­ried per­son­ally by traf­fick­ers in se­cret cav­i­ties in books, paint­ings, ma­chiner­ies, combs, de­signer cloth­ing, shoes, dec­o­ra­tion items, skip­ping ropes, arte­facts, soft toys, baby clothes and sa­ree falls. They are also shipped through courier.

Cus­toms of­fi­cials at Delhi’s air­port are un­der­go­ing train­ing and us­ing snif­fer dogs for more strin­gent scan­ning.

Delhi Po­lice of­fi­cials at IGIA said it is not easy to scan lug­gage and in­di­vid­u­als for metic­u­lously hid­den drugs, and most seizures are made on spe­cific in­for­ma­tion. They also said snif­fer dogs could help in more ef­fec­tive de­tec­tion. "We take swift ac­tion once we re­ceive tip-offs. Af­ter seizures, we take le­gal ac­tion against car­ri­ers," said San­jay Bha­tia, DCP (IGI Air­port).

NOT JUST DELHI

To avert IGIA’s high se­cu­rity, smug­glers also fly to other In­dian cities and then come to Delhi. “Huge seizures have also been made at smaller air­ports such as Kochi, Trichy and Imphal,” said Singh.

CISF that man­ages air­ports also con­firms this. “Dur­ing in­ter­ro­ga­tion, most smug­glers ad­mit­ted to shift­ing op­er­a­tions to smaller air­ports to avoid tighter se­cu­rity at Delhi and Bengaluru,” said a CISF spokesper­son. The force says flights to In­dia from South Africa, Afghanistan, Zim­babwe, Tan­za­nia and Nige­ria have seen max­i­mum drug smug­gling in the past two years.

Abusers in Delhi de­mand co­caine, pro­duced in Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries. Heroin is com­ing from Afghanistan — MADHO SINGH, ZONAL DI­REC­TOR OF NCB'S DELHI UNIT We take swift ac­tion once we re­ceive tip-offs. Af­ter seizures, we take le­gal ac­tion against car­ri­ers — SAN­JAY BHA­TIA, DCP (IGI AIR­PORT)

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