As drug smuggling thrives, AIU awaits body scanners at Mumbai airport

Even as the Mumbai anti narcotics cell (ANC) recently registered three cases of high quality cocaine allegedly smuggled from foreign countries by air, the air intelligence unit (AIU) of the Mumbai Customs department has for the last three years been requesting the government to provide body scanners to screen arrivals at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

On July 15, the ANC arrested a Nigerian national with over 1 kg of superior quality cocaine, worth ₹6 crore in the illegal drug market. The accused had allegedly obtained the drugs from a Mozambique native, who smuggled it into India through the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. The seizure was also linked to two other hauls, where the cocaine was smuggled by drug mules through Mumbai airport.

AIU officers said in light of the rising number of cases of smuggling, not only of drugs but also other contraband, they had requested the Central government to provide them with body scanners.

“With the sheer number of people coming into the country on a daily basis, it is challenging to intercept cases of smuggling based only on profiling and tip-offs. A body scanner would help detect the presence of foreign objects inside a human body and would go a long way in curbing smuggling of contraband through human couriers,” an AIU officer said.

However, despite repeated requests, which also included cost estimates from private companies, the AIU is still awaiting a response from the government.

“We are aware of the two seizures by the Mumbai ANC, where the drugs were smuggled through Mumbai airport, and have taken note of both the instances, as they amount to a lapse on our part,” the officer said.

Of the two seizures, the first one was conducted by the ANC in January, where two Nigerians were arrested with 1.05 kg of cocaine worth ₹6.03 crore. In the second incident, a Kenyan national was held with 510 grams of cocaine worth ₹3.03 crore. In both cases, the couriers had allegedly swallowed plastic pouches containing the drugs and excreted them after reaching Mumbai. The quality of the drugs in the cases was certified as 96% pure by the Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Kalina.

While the government recently approved installation of body scanners to be operated by the Central Industrial Security Force at the departures terminal, the AIU is trying to arrange for a body scanner on its own so that it can be used at the arrivals section, sources said.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 8:23:33 PM |

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