Delhi: Special Cell busts drug cartel; heroin worth Rs 600 cr seized; 5 held

A team of Special Cell, led by Inspectors Sunil Rajain, Ravinder Joshi and Vinod Badola, assisted by SI Sunder Gautam and ASI Brij Pal, under the supervision of ACPs Lalit Mohan Negi and Hridaya Bhushan has busted an International drug cartel involved in the import, reconstitution and distribution of Afghan Heroin. So far, no less than 150 kilograms of Afghan Heroin, valued internationally close to Rs. 600 crores, has been seized, said a statement of Delhi Police.

The expose has revealed the sinister side of the spice and condiment trade between India and Afghanistan and its use as a cover by International drug syndicates. The employment of chemical experts from Jalalabad, Afghanistan to oversee the reconstitution and processing of heroin in India indicates the scale and sophistication of the operation. The MO involved soaking of jute bags, meant for carrying cumin and other household spices from Afghanistan to India, in a heroin laden solution. Every empty jute bag actually concealed a dried solution of heroin powder in its fibers. Once the spices had been removed, every empty jute bag, when processed, would yield approximately 1 kilogram of high quality Afghan Heroin.

The Special Cell, mandated to keep an eye on terror and its entire support infrastructure which includes gun-running, fake currency and narcotics, keeps a continuous tab on suspect movements across the National Capital.

For the past few months, information was being received through reliable sources of a convoy type movement of several luxury cars, on regular intervals, in some areas of South East District which, as per source information, was uncharacteristic of local demography and socio-economic profiles. It was also learnt that these luxury car convoys

often carried persons of foreign origin, especially Afghan and Africans, apart from Indians. This raised an alarm and a deep deployment operation was launched which involved careful surveillance and tracking skills.

Soon, it emerged that this group of persons, including some foreign nationals, was in fact in the final stages of assembling some kind of industrial set-up in a very densely populated and urban suburb of South East District. Further watch and surveillance revealed that the syndicate was using a fleet of luxury sedans which moved in convoys. The convoy would exit Delhi in late night-early morning hours and would not stop before it reached interior Punjab and other neighboring States.

To develop the emerging contours of a highly refined cartel, seasoned sources were carefully selected and deployed and intensive technical surveillance was mounted.

The efforts yielded result when, on July 17, in late evening hours, specific information was received that smuggling of a large quantity of contraband was expected to take place and the convoy would assemble at a location in Lajpat Nagar. A large team was assembled and put into action. Further input was received about the possible arrival of the convoy near Ashram Flyover. A trap was laid and at around midnight hours, two persons, traveling in two separate cars, were apprehended. On searching their vehicles a total of 60 kg (30 kg in each car) fine quality contraband, suspected to be heroin, parceled in packets weighing approximately 1 kg each, was found concealed inside an especially created cavity between the backseat and boot space of each of the two cars.

Upon this, a case under appropriate sections of law was registered at Police Station Special Cell and investigation was taken up.

The arrested persons are Dheeraj alias Deepak, Village Harphala, Ballabhgarh, Faridabad, Haryana and Raees Khan, from Maharani Bagh, Delhi.

After interrogation of the 2 accused persons and the knowledge gained from weeks of surveillance, a follow up raid was conducted at a location in Zakir Nagar area of South East Delhi, from where an industrial set up in the making was busted. From this site, two Afghan nationals, found to be chemical and mechanical experts, were apprehended. They were working for the drug syndicate to give the initial impetus and to iron out the teething issues which come with the establishment of a clandestine narcotic processing unit. From this site, a total of another 60 kgs of processed Afghan Heroin was recovered. By a first-hand observation of the processing set-up found at the site and the quantity of the recovered heroin, it is inferred that this consignment may have actually been processed somewhere else and was kept there using the venue as a safehouse.

Apart from the Afghan nationals, another accused was found who had just finished loading his car with contraband. This heroin was also concealed in the similarly crafted cavity as in the earlier intercepted two vehicles. Another 30 kgs of Afghan Heroin was seized from this car, taking the total seizure to 150 kgs.

At this site, a huge amount of preparatory and precursor chemical agents, solutions and implements etc. were also found. Also, a semi-industrial set up of relatively sophisticated design, was found almost operational. The entire premises were sealed and arrangements are being made for its detailed inspection with the assistance of forensic experts from CFSL/FSL.

Further, from this site, two semi-automatic pistols and 20 live cartridges, were also recovered which, as disclosed during the interrogation of arrested accused, were used by the cartel as a security cover when important movements were made and when new clients were introduced for expanding the illicit business.

The accused apprehended from this site are Shinwari Rehmat Gul, r/o Nirgral, Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Akhtar Mohammad Shinwari, s/o Katan, r/o Jalalabad, Afghanistan and Vakeel Ahmed, s/o Late Munna Ali, r/o, P-141, Nafees Road, Jamia Nagar, Batla House, Delhi.

With the expertise gained by years of clandestine operations, the Af-Pak drug cartels have recently adopted this novel modus operandi whereby crude heroin is dissolved in a preservative solution and ordinary jute bags, meant for carrying various kinds of spices and condiments, are soaked and dried in this Heroin solution. A clandestine network of operatives ensures that all marked jute bags, after emptying their cargo, are sent to the chosen site where the heroin dried in the absorbent jute fibre is carefully extracted, reconstituted and processed following delicate chemical processes before being packed into one kilogram parcels for onward transportation towards markets of intense demand like Punjab and also for onward trans-national movement through southern states from where they reach Sri Lanka and eventually other territories.

The arrested accused were produced before the concerned Court from where their Police Custody remand has been obtained.

The Indian masterminds of the syndicate have been identified and efforts are on to apprehend them. The descriptive roles of foreign based operatives are being prepared for sharing with concerned agencies.

So far, it appears that the busted unit was recently assembled at Zakir Nagar, Delhi to take advantage of dense population which provides for cheap rentals, indifferent owner checks and a cover of anonymity for persons of various nationalities. More arrests and further recoveries are likely in the matter. reporter