The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has initiated a money laundering probe into the recent seizure of a record nearly 3,000 kg heroin from two containers at the Mundra port in Gujarat, official sources said on Tuesday. The federal agency is studying the details of the case and proceeding forward under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), they said.
The agency has also sought the complaint filed by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) while unearthing the smuggling of the narcotic. The case pertains to the DRI, an enforcement agency under the Union Finance Ministry like the ED, seizing a total of 2,988.21 kg Afghan heroin from the Mundra port in the Kutch district around September 15.
The consignment was estimated to be worth Rs 21,000 crore as officials said the international market value of the seized heroin per kilogram was about Rs 5-7 crore. This is stated to be the single largest seizure of heroin in India till now and even one of the biggest across the globe.
A senior Union Home Ministry official said the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the apex federal anti-drugs agency, may also probe the case once wider ramifications emerge. As the DRI is already an empowered agency to enforce the NDPS like the NCB, the latter agency may not be required to come into the case immediately, he said.
ED sources said the agency, after filing the PMLA case, will investigate the people or syndicate behind this heroin smuggling, identify proceeds of crime and may also attach assets of the accused, if required, during the course of probe. The consignment is stated by official sources to have been imported by a trading company registered in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, as semi-processed talc stones.
The narcotic is stated to be of Afghanistan origin and was shipped from Bandar Abbas Port in Iran to the Mundra Port. "A total of 2988.21 kg of heroin — 1999.57 kg heroin from one container and 988.64 kg heroin from the second container — was seized under the provisions of the NDPS (Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act," a source said.
Searches were later conducted by the DRI in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai, Gandhidham and Mandvi in Gujarat, following which two persons were arrested. Involvement of some Afghan nationals is also under the scanner of the DRI, the sources said. The importer firm, identified by official sources as Aashi Trading Company, is alleged to be run by M Sudhakar and his wife G Durga Purna Vaishali.
The couple has been arrested by the DRI from Chennai a few days back and they were later brought to Bhuj town in Kutch. On Monday, the couple were produced before a special court for NDPS cases in Bhuj that granted 10 days' custody of the two to the DRI. The Vijayawada police said in a public statement that "so far, no activity, except using the Vijayawada house address for obtaining licences (by the wife for import and export), has come to notice. However, further enquiries are being conducted".
City Police Commissioner B Srinivasulu told PTI that their teams “conducted a thorough investigation and except the use of Vijayawada house address (for obtaining licence), so far, no activity has been detected".