India’s top anti-smuggling agency claims to have impounded two containers carrying nearly three tonnes of Afghan heroin with a street value of around £2bn, in what would be one of the world’s largest ever drug seizures.
The bust was made at Mundra Port in the western state of Gujarat on 15 September by agents from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), according to multiple media reports citing anonymous sources from the agency.
Officials suspect the consignment came from Afghanistan via the Bandar Abbas port in Iran, and acted following a tip-off about a company based in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh that was importing semi-processed Afghan talc stones.
The forensic examination by experts “confirmed the presence of heroin” and accordingly the contents of both the containers “totalling 2988.219 kg” were seized, an official was quoted as saying by India Today.
Officials are still trying to establish the exact amount and value of heroin seized and the DRI is yet to issue a formal statement on the operation.
But according to a report by the Hindu, the Indian authorities have so far arrested five people in relation to the matter, including two Afghan nationals. When contacted by The Independent, the DRI agency declined to comment on the details of the arrests citing the ongoing investigation.
Local media quoted officials as saying that raids in relation to the bust had been carried out in Ahmedabad, Gandhidham and Mandvi in Gujarat, as well as in Chennai and Delhi.
The drugs bust comes amid speculation from experts that the Taliban will resort to selling large quantities of heroin through the international black market as it struggles to revive the Afghan economy, amid the strangulation of foreign aid following the group’s violent takeover of the country.
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan has provided a boon to the country’s opium industry, a major traditional source of income for the Taliban and one which has long been targeted by American airstrikes and other poppy eradication operations.
Afghanistan is by far the world’s biggest producer of illicit poppy products, estimated by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime to account for more than 80 per cent of global opium and heroin supplies.