Pakistan syndicates under the scanner as drug seizures mount in subcontinent

The recent seizures of over 1,100 kg of heroin in the Indian subcontinent have left the investigating agencies worried about a spurt in the activities of Pakistan-based drug-trafficking syndicates in the region.

The seized heroin is suspected to be of Afghanistan origin. “Three routes are traditionally used for global distribution of Afghan heroin: the Balkans, Central Asian countries and the Indian subcontinent. Since 2015, there has been a decline in seizures on the Balkans and Central Asian routes. However, they have of late increased in the subcontinent,” an enforcement agency official said.

The Coast Guard detected 200 kg of heroin on a Pakistan fishing vessel, named Al-Madina, off Gujarat on May 21. Four Pakistan nationals were arrested. On May 6, an Iranian boat, allegedly transporting large quantities of narcotics, was seized by the Maldivian authorities west of Baa Atoll. Seven crew members were arrested.

In another case, the Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), together with the Coast Guard, seized 100 kg of heroin from an Iranian boat off Porbandar and arrested nine Iranian nationals in March. Investigation revealed that the consignment had been sent by Pakistan national, Hamid Malek, and loaded on the boat close to the Gwadar port. A follow-up action by the ATS led to the arrest of an Afghan national at Lajpat Nagar in Delhi and another suspect in Kerala.

On March 24, enforcement officials in southern Sri Lanka seized over 107 kg of heroin from an Iranian vessel.

Inland seizures have also pointed to the role of Pakistan-based syndicates, the official said. A case in point is the seizure by the Customs at the Attari Integrated Check Post in June of 532 kg of heroin and 52 kg of other drugs. They had been declared rock salt. The alleged kingpin, Tariq Ahmed Lone of Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested, along with importer Gurpinder Singh. “The consignment was booked in the name of Global Vision Impex, a front for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in Lahore,” the official said. The seizure came a couple of months after India suspended cross-border trade through Kashmir as the route was being used to push in drugs and weapons.

In several cases, the agencies have come across evidence of drug money being used to fund terror activities.

“After demonetisation, there has been no major seizure of Indian fake currency notes printed in Pakistan. This has forced the ISI-backed groups to raise funds by trafficking drugs. The first high-quality seizure — of over ₹7 crore in counterfeit currency notes — was made at the Kathmandu airport in March. Three Pakistan nationals were arrested,” the official said.

Jabir Moti, a Pakistan national alleged to be a close aide of Dawood Ibrahim, a designated global terrorist, is under the scanner of Indian agencies for drug-money laundering. Now lodged in a London jail, he is facing proceedings for extradition to the U.S.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 3:43:13 AM |

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