Heroin seizures shocking, but India not a consumer as Taliban ships extra stock to West

The frequency and quantities of heroin seizures made by multiple drug enforcement and investigative agencies are alarming, but officials stress that India is not the ultimate consumer of these narcotics, but rather a point transit en route to the West.

According to Narcotics Control Bureau officials, the Taliban, which took control of Afghanistan last year, uses Indian conduits as a transit point for heroin, one of the most expensive drugs, to destinations in Western countries. This led to a massive increase in heroin seizures from India.

According to data from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), from 2018 to 2021, the agency saw an increase of almost 37,400% in foreclosures. These figures exclude other seizures by the DRI and a missed shipment by the agency in June last year, which was suspected of carrying nearly 6,000 kg of heroin.

In a recent case, DRI and the Gujarat Counter Terrorism Squad recovered 395 kg of heroin from a container at Pipavav Port. According to officials, the wires were soaked in a solution containing heroin which was then dried, baled and packed in bags. The most important detail is that the 395 kg of heroin had been in port for five months, hinting at an inside hand.

Also last year, DRI detected three cases of heroin smuggling in July from Hyderabad airport, involving African nationals believed to be transporting heroin to various countries, including South Africa and Australia. . The total amount of heroin recovered in these cases was worth more than Rs 100 crore.

“Over the past year, there have been several cases where tons of heroin has been supplied to India. It is estimated that a total of 10,000 kg of heroin was supplied to India mainly through seaports. Two major shipments, including one that was missed by agencies in June last year, account for 90% of total seizures. Such a massive amount of heroin has no consumers in India, it is clearly for Western and European countries. India is just a transit point,” a senior NCB official told News18.com.

Mass manufacture of heroin

According to the latest report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the production of opium, the main source of heroin, has reached unprecedented levels since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The total area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was approximately 224,000 hectares in 2020, an increase of 37% or 61,000 hectares from 2019,” the Afghanistan Opium Survey 2020 summary states.

“At 224,000 hectares, the cultivated area was one of the highest ever measured,” he adds.

While opium was mass-produced, smuggling and supply chains came to a standstill when the pandemic disrupted air and sea transport. Intelligence officials say that after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, they emptied the stockpiles with help from Pakistan and used India as a warehouse.

“India does not have a big market for such expensive drugs and they are only consumed in a few metropolitan cities. It seems India has been taken over as a warehouse. But various investigative agencies have been alerted by a detailed report on the recent trend,” a senior DRI official told News18.com.

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