Devesh K. Pandey

Pressure mounted by law enforcement agencies at airport

Looking for other aerial routes out of India

Rise in smuggling of heroin to Kuala Lumpur

NEW DELHI: Intense pressure mounted by law enforcement agencies on drug peddlers at Indira Gandhi International Airport here seems to have resulted in a shift in their modus operandi. Following some recent arrests, the drug peddlers by all indications have now started avoiding Delhi and are looking out for other aerial routes out of the country.

Instead of boarding international flights from Delhi, they are now said to be trying to smuggle out drug consignments through places like Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. The enforcement agencies have in the recent past arrested six such drug peddlers from different airports. Five of them were women, including a Philippine national and four Thai nationals. Delhi was the first transit point in all the cases.

In April, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence arrested a woman from the Philippines after 2 kg of heroin was allegedly found hidden in her luggage at Chennai airport. The accused was about to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur when she was arrested. Investigations revealed that she had gone to Chennai via Delhi.

In another case reported the same month, the Customs sleuths arrested a Thai woman allegedly with 4.9 kg of heroin when she was on her way to board a Jet Airways flight to Kuala Lumpur. Another Thai woman on her way to Kuala Lumpur by a Malaysian Airline flight was arrested by the Customs in May for allegedly trying to smuggle out 2 kg of heroin.

The same month, the DRI officials arrested a Thai woman at Hyderabad airport for trying to smuggle out 2.2 kg of heroin. The 28-year-old woman came to Delhi from Bangkok on April 30 and then went to Hyderabad. During interrogation, she purportedly disclosed that she had procured the consignment of heroin in Delhi.

In the first week of July, the DRI arrested a young Thai woman on charges of trying to smuggle out about 2 kg of heroin on board a flight to Kuala Lumpur via Hong Kong. Another person, a male Tanzanian national, who was to board the same flight, was arrested by the agency after he was found to be allegedly smuggling out heroin stuffed in capsules through body concealment.

According to drug law enforcement officials, these cases indicate that there has been an increase lately in the smuggling of heroin of Afghan origin to Kuala Lumpur and mostly women are being employed as couriers. The officials, who are in favour of real-time operational coordination among various agencies at different airports to check drug smuggling, suspect that peddlers now try to use smaller airports with international flight connectivity where level of vigilance is not the same as at Delhi and Mumbai airports.