The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is all set to launch a money-laundering investigation into the seizure of the largest ever consignment of Afghan heroin – approximately 3,000 kg heroin worth ₹21,000 crore – from two containers at Mundra port in Gujarat last week, as the case has larger international ramifications, people familiar with the developments said.
Days after the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) intercepted two containers shipped from Iran at the Mundra port in Bhuj, suspecting that they contained heroin originally sourced from Afghanistan.
The agency on Monday said that it has completed its operation of forensic testing and claimed to have seized 2,988.219 kg of the narcotic, valued at Rs 21,000 crore in the world market.
After the seizure of the drug, the DRI officials arrested a Chennai-based couple in Delhi on charges of smuggling 3,000 kg of heroin from Afghanistan.
The duo was held after the central agency carried out a search operation at various premises in Delhi, Tamil Nadu’s Chennai and Gujrat’s Ahmedabad, Gandhidham, and Mandvi.
According to DRI (Ahmedabad zone) officials, a consignment had been imported by Aashi Trading Company, a Vijaywada-based company, from Iran’s Bandar Abbas Port to Mundra Port. The company had declared the imported consignment as “semi-processed talc stones” which had originated from Afghanistan.
Five people including a Chennai-based couple – Govindaraju Durga Purna Vaishali and her husband Machavaram Sudhakar, two Afghan nationals, and another Indian citizen have already been arrested by the DRI in the case.
“It has been learned that Durga Purna Vaishali, resident of Chennai had taken GST registration in August 2020 at the address at Satyanarayana Puram, Gadiyaramvari Street, Vijayawada. Sudhakar, a resident of Chennai, is the husband of Vaishali. The above building is owned by Govindaraju Taraka who happened to be the mother of Vaishali,” said a Vijayawada police statement.
It added that “Vaishali took Import and Export Licence (IEC Code) from the Director-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) for export and import purpose”.
It said the smuggled heroin in the guise of talcum powder that landed at Mundra Port was intended to reach Delhi, but not Vijayawada as alleged in some sections of the media.
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.