New Delhi: In one of the biggest ever narcotics hauls in Delhi, the special cell of Delhi Police on Friday recovered 150 kgs of heroin worth Rs 600 crores. Five people, including two Afghan chemical experts, have been arrested and luxurious vehicles have been recovered from their possession.
The accused were trying to set up a full-fledged reconstitutional factory in Delhi, Manishi Chandra, DCP Special Cell, said.
The modus operandi, according to police, involved soaking of jute bags, meant for carrying cumin and other household spices from Afghanistan to India, in a heroin-laden solution.
"Every empty jute bag actually concealed a dried solution of heroin in its fibers. Once the spices were removed, each jute bag would yield one kilogram of heroin. These jute bags are processed and made into high quality Afghan heroin," Chandra said. Otherwise the fine quality heroin could be detected easily as it has a high detection rate.
The expose has revealed the sinister side of the spice and condiment trade between India and Afghanistan as the drugs were being smuggled in the garb of trade. The employment of chemical experts from Afghanistan’s Jalalabad to oversee the reconstitution and processing of heroin in India indicates the scale and sophistication of the operation, the officer said.
"The Afghanistan-Pakistan drug cartels have recently adopted this novel method whereby the crude heroin is dissolved in a preservative solution and ordinary jute bags meant for carrying spices and condiments are soaked and dried in this heroin solution," Chandra said.
A network of operatives ensures that all the marked jute bags, after emptying their cargo, are sent to the chosen site where the heroin is carefully extracted, reconstituted and processed. It is then packed into a kilogram parcels for further transportation towards high-demand markets like Punjab and also for onward trans-national movement through southern states from where they reach Sri Lanka and other countries.
An information was received about a convoy-type movement of several luxury cars, on regular intervals, in some areas of Southeast Delhi. This was deemed to be unusual given the demography and socio-economic profile of the locality. It was also learnt that these convoys often carried foreign nationals, especially Afghans and Africans, apart from Indians.
After developing the information, it was found that this group was in final stages of assembling an industrial set-up in a very densely populated and urban suburb of Southeast district.
"Further surveillance revealed that the syndicate was using a fleet of luxury sedans which moved in convoys. The convoy would exit Delhi in late night or early morning hours and would not stop before it reached interior Punjab and other neighboring states," explained Chandra.
A trap was laid on July 17 after getting specific input about the smuggling of a large quantity of contraband and it was expected that a convoy would assemble in Lajpat Nagar area. Two people, identified as Dheeraj and Raees traveling in two separate cars, were apprehended.
On searching the vehicles, a total of 60 kg of fine quality contraband, suspected to be heroin, was found concealed inside a cavity created between the backseat and leg space in the two cars. After further probe, the police arrested two Afghan nationals, identified as Shinwari Rehmat Gul and Akhtar Mohammad Shinwari, from Zakir Nagar area. The two are chemical and mechanical experts.
During interrogation, Dheeraj and Raees revealed a location where they were trying to set up a unit. Subsequently, a raid was conducted in Zakir Nagar area of Southeast Delhi, from where an industrial set up in the making was busted.
The two Afghan nationals were working for the drug syndicate to give the initial impetus and to iron out the teething issues which come with the establishment of a clandestine narcotic processing unit.
Police recovered another 60 kgs of processed Afghan Heroin.
"By a firsthand observation of the processing set-up found at the site and the quantity of the recovered heroin, it seems this consignment may have actually been processed somewhere else and was kept there using the venue as a safehouse," the raiding team said.
Fifth accused, Vakeel Ahmad, was caught red handed while he finished loading his car with the contraband.
According to senior officials of the Special Cell, the entire premisis has been sealed and arrangements are being made for its detailed inspection with the assistance of forensic experts.
Apart from the heroin, the police have also recovered two semi-automatic pistols and twenty live cartridges, which were being used by the cartel as a security cover when important movements were made and when new clients were introduced for expanding the racket. Four luxury cars – Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, Toyota Altis , Toyota Coralla-- have also been seized.
The operation is underway and more arrests are expected. According to police, the Indian masterminds of the syndicate have been identified and efforts are on to apprehend them. “The descriptive roles of foreign-based operatives are being prepared for sharing with concerned agencies,” said Chandra.