The Directorate of Revenue (Intelligence) on Tuesday seized 29 kg of hashish from a vehicle parked in front of a hotel on the arterial M. G. Road in Kochi.

They have arrested a garment exporter from Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, Ramesh Kumar, and his local customs house agent, Ramraj, in connection with the drug haul. The DRI has also confiscated Mr. Kumars vehicle, a Toyota Innova van bearing registration number TN-56-4477, in which the agency said the drug was found.

The DRI said the accused intended to smuggle the drug to Europe from Kochi concealed in a shipment of garments. Investigators said they suspect that the accused had earlier smuggled a consignment of hashish to Canada from Kochi port in a similar manner. They said the accused procured the drug from one Tirupur-based Sreenivasan, allegedly one of the top South Indian agents of a powerful Nepal-based drug ring.

(Cannabis grows wildly and in abundance in the highlands of Nepal. It is also cultivated in Nepal's Terai region. The DRI said that much of hashish and hashish oil manufactured illegally in Nepal is smuggled chiefly to Canada through various routes, including sea-ports in South India).

The drug, costing around Rs 50,000 for a kilogramme in India, could fetch a much higher price when retailed in foriegn markets.

Ephedrine siezed

The DRI almost simultaneously raided Ramrajs garment manufacturing unit and warehouse in Tirupur in Tamil Nadu early on Tuesday and confiscated around 100 kg of ephedrine, a chemical drug often abused as a stimulant by younsgters in Europe and the U.S.

The DRI said the drug, a controlled substance under the Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS), was illegally diverted from a pharmaceutical manufacturing unit in Tamil Nadu. One kilogram of ephedrine costs around Rs 15,000 in India and much more in foreign countries. It is also used a precursor chemical for making psychedelic drugs such as ecstasy and amphetamine, a stimulant.

The suspects will be produced before the magistrate court in Kochi on Tuesday afternoon on the charge of violating the NDPS Act.

DRI additional director Rema Mathew, Superintendents Syed Muhammad, P. Prasad, N. S. Dev and Intelligence officers K. Padmarajan, Sasidharan and Laju Thomas conducted the operation.

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