The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) today arrested two Afghan nationals, suspected to have connections with the opium syndicate of the Taliban, from Shaheen Bagh, the infamous neighbourhood of national capital Delhi where traffic was held to ransom for months by Muslim activists two years ago. This has been one of the biggest drugs and cash hauls by the NCB in the recent past.
An NCB team is interrogating the arrested Afghans at present. The two men arrested from Bhogal raised suspicion in sleuths of the agency when it was found they couldn’t speak Hindi.
Meanwhile, Delhi Police arrested one of the kingpins of Afghan drug racket from Jamia Nagar, last night.
The NCB has not ruled out the possibility of a narco-terrorism module operating from Shaheen Bagh. NCB chief SN Pradhan told reporters that the racket had links to Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.
NCB officials have not ruled out the possibility of the Afghans being part of the Taliban’s opium trade that largely sustains the terrorist group that now rules the rocky country.
The NCB chief said that Pakistani smugglers served as the conduit in illegal trade of cocaine from Afghanistan to India. Their modus operandi involves smuggling heroin to India from Afghanistan. The money earned from the sales proceed is sent to Dubai via hawala (unregistered monetary transactions).
The NCB officials had seized over 97 kg of heroin and other narcotics from a house in Shaheen Bagh yesterday. The team recovered cash of approximately Rs 30 lakh, a note-counting machine and some incriminating documents from a house in Jamia Nagar.
Sanjay Kumar Singh, the deputy director-general of the NCB, said that the drug bust was just a small part of the international racket.
The suspect has a printing shop where he stored and hid drugs and the money. “The primary suspects are hiding in other countries,” he said.
NCB head puts Shaheen Bagh haul in perspective
NCB Director-General SN Pradhan said that the agency is conducting a big crackdown on drugs across the country in collaboration with other central agencies. The NCB chief said further that hints from many drug hauls in the country led to the Shaheen Bagh arrests. He said that the NCB probe had shown the drug network flowing far and wide in the country.
The NCB chief said, ‘It is a big network. The syndicate works both for commercial interest and for the strategic interests of other countries to harm India. We have busted the racket, but there will be more to come.” Pradhan said his agency had been monitoring drug-related developments for a very long time.
“The drug bust has connections with the recent Attari seizure and also the Kandla port seizure by DRI. It is a mega racket with multiple agents involved. The person who has been arrested in connection with the Shaheen Bagh bust has been doing this for a long time and he is part of a bigger network,’ the NCB head said.
Pradhan said that the NCB had already put several locations under its scanner. “Muzaffarabad is already under the radar. There will be more places in and outside Delhi and states like Haryana, Uttarakhand and other places will be involved in the probe,” the chief said. The agency head noted that the NCB could not put a limit on the ‘wide’ network with the current probe.
According to NCB officials, the suspects in Shaheen Bagh stored the drugs in travel bags, backpacks and jute sacks while heroine was put in packets of Flipkart.
The officials suspect that Pakistani smugglers form an important component of this drugs syndicate as the facilitate transfer of heroin and opium from Afghanistan to India.
While responding to a query about a lump sum of cash being found in the bust, the NCB chief said that they will involve other agencies to probe the terror angle in the case. The NCB on 27 April recovered over Rs 30 lakh during the raid in Shaheen Bagh.
Pradhan said that the narco-terror link in the case could not be ruled out. He said that the NCB would probe how the huge consignments of drugs made their way to the mainland of the country.
The NCB chief mentioned the seizure of chemicals and other substances that were used to spike pure heroin. He said that the suspects were spiking a consignment of 50 kg using such chemicals and packaging volumes in separate packets for sale. He sounded optimistic that the probe agency would bust more people and rackets in the coming days with links to the drug pedalling network in the country.
On 27 April, Pradhan had slammed the Taliban government in Afghanistan for the drug network’s growth in the country. “Its roots are very deep and this is part of an international syndicate and a racket where multiple agencies, including other nations, are involved. Recently, Afghanistan’s Taliban government announced a ban on the cultivation of poppy, but in anticipation of the ban, there seems to be a rise in exports and illegal trafficking outside. That is how we have been doing our homework.”
“There is a very simple economy behind this drug trade and that simple economy is also a sinister economy. They feed the demanding side and there is supply pressure. We must realise that the stock has piled up in Afghanistan and there are tons of heroin that have to go somewhere. There is demand in the south Asia region, including in the Indian market. So they want to somehow push it,” Pradhan added, speaking after the drug bust in Delhi.