The NCB has arrested two Zambian nationals and seized over five kg of "fine quality" heroin over the last week as it said new routes for smuggling the drug into India are being exploited by traffickers.
In the first case, Zambian man Mulapi Joshua was nabbed by the sleuths of the federal anti-narcotics agency from the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport in New Delhi on December 25 with 4.6 kg of heroin.
His compatriot, Mambwe William, was similarly apprehended from the IGI airport on December 31 with 700 grams of heroin.
The two had landed in New Delhi from Dubai, official sources said.
"The arrest of two Zambian nationals with fine quality heroin revealed a reverse route of heroin trafficking into India," Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Deputy Director (operations) K P S Malhotra said, adding that the value of the seized drug is around ₹22 crore in the international market.
The normal route for heroin smuggling into the country is through the Pakistan border and in some cases, through the eastern frontiers. The reverse route refers to heroin being trafficked into India from "two different routes" after sourcing it from Afghanistan, the "main cultivator" of opium and "producer" of heroin, Mr. Malhotra said.
He said the new tracks are being used by traffickers as the border-guarding forces are keeping a "strict vigil" along the eastern and western frontiers.
Mr. Malhotra said one of the two new routes is — heroin sourced from Afghanistan and Pakistan is shipped via sea cargo to Sri Lanka and Maldives and from these two countries, it is trafficked into India.
Recent huge seizures of heroin revealed this modus operandi, he added.
The second circuit is where heroin is trafficked from Afghanistan and Pakistan to African countries and then using the air route, with the help of couriers and passengers, it is trafficked into India, the officer said.