In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in a suo moto proceeding, the Centre submitted the recent trends seen by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in detection of drugs trafficked internationally through the sea and air routes
With 19 states in the United States legalising consumption of marijauna and cannabis and many still in the process of doing so, the easily available contraband is being trafficked rampantly into India through air cargo and courier parcels arriving internationally, the Centre informed the Supreme Court last week.
In an affidavit filed in a suo moto proceeding, the Centre submitted the recent trends seen by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in detection of drugs trafficked internationally through the sea and air routes and gave a comprehensive picture about the steps being taken to contain the drug menace in the country.
“Between September 2021 and September 2022, 77 cases of drug seizure (mostly hydroponic marijauna) have been detected by the Postal Appraising Section of Mumbai Customs alone,” said the affidavit filed by Centre through the nodal agency Narcotics Control Bureau. In all these cases, it added, “The consignments were originated from USA, UK, Canada and other western sectors where marijauna has been legalised.”
The affidavit indicated that 19 states in the US have legalised the recreational use or consumption of marijauna while others are in the process of legalising its use beyond medical use. “The easy availability of the product is providing opportunity to the people who can be lured for sending or trafficking the drug where there is demand of such products,” the affidavit said.
The affidavit came in response to an October 18 order of the Supreme Court in a suo moto proceeding where the court was concerned over the seizure of nearly 3,000 kilogram of heroin at Mundra port in September. While the court sought details of the probe into this seizure, the Centre was asked to detail out steps to prevent such incidents in future.
“Smuggling of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (NDPS) into the country through sea route (coastal regions) has increased manifold in recent times. In most of such cases, commercial containerised cargo has been misused as a cover to bring the drugs into the country,” the affidavit said. Most such seizures were found on the western coast. As regards the seizure at Mundra port, the matter is under probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that has found the involvement of two terrorist groups – Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen and Hizbul Mujahideen.
“The seizures of the narcotic drugs such as heroin being smuggled on boats/ships emanating from the Gulf region and Iran in the recent past, coupled with Covid-19 restrictions on air/land routes suggest that the sea route will be exploited by the drug traffickers in the future also,” the Centre said, adding that the huge volume of this trade makes it “impractical” to check all shipping consignments.
Investigation into the heroin consignment at Mundra port has revealed a clear Pakistan connect. The Cente said, “During investigation it was revealed that international drug traffickers hailing from Afghanistan and Iran, with the help of their handlers from Pakistan, smuggled huge quantities of heroin into India by concealing consignment in semi-processed talc stone.”
Further, the Centre informed the top court that tracking drug consignments being trafficked through road transport route has yielded in seizure of 45.6 MT of ganja in the year 2020-21 from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and north eastern states.
International passengers are being profiled to detect suspicious travellers, the Centre said. In majority of drug seizure cases involving international passengers, the DRI noticed the bulk to be those arriving from African countries mostly on medical visa.
As multiple law enforcement agencies such as NIA, DRI, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC), NCB are involved in detection and seizure of drugs, the Centre underlined the need for greater exchange of data/intelligence between the agencies. “The law enforcement agencies need to develop advance operational tools and share live actionable intelligence/information to assess the nature of drug trafficking through key sensitive areas and border points.”
An emerging area of concern, the Centre highlighted, was the use of crypto currency in the drug trade in which law enforcement officers need training. “In coming times need of departmental wallets for purpose of seizure of crypto currencies recovered in relation to drug cases, training of officers in the field of dark web and crypto currencies require better focus.”