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NIA questions Delhi businessman in Mundra drug haul case, raids locations in four states

Investigations had revealed that some drug consignments shipped to Mundra in the past had reached godowns owned by him; five Afghans and five Indians arrested so far

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New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) Wednesday questioned a businessman who, among other businesses, owns three popular Delhi nightclubs, in connection with its probe into the Rs 21,000 crore drug haul at Gujarat’s Mundra port.

According to NIA sources, investigations have revealed that some drug consignments shipped to Mundra Port in the past had reached the godowns owned by the businessman. Following this, the entities related to him were searched and he was called in for questioning, the sources said.

The probes also revealed that a similar consignment had reached Mundra port last June — three months before a massive 3,000 kg consignment was intercepted in September — but was given clearance. The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) then tracked the June consignment to a warehouse in Delhi’s Alipur where they found a new lead in the case — white residue scattered on the floor.

On Wednesday, the NIA conducted raids at multiple locations in Delhi, Kolkata, Punjab, and Gujarat in connection with the Mundra drugs bust. Among those places raided was a private club that the businessman owned in Delhi’s Hotel Samrat.

In Delhi, searches were carried out in over 10 locations, the sources said. 

“The investigation revealed that the consignments were reaching some godowns in Delhi. When probed, they were found to be associated with the businessman who owns these clubs. He is being questioned about those deliveries,” one of the sources said.

In a statement released Wednesday, the NIA said: “During the investigation of the case, it [was] revealed that the accused imported more consignments in 2020 and 2021 and sent [them] to Delhi. The suspected persons are associates of people who have already been arrested, including Afghan nationals.”

“The searches conducted today have led to the recovery of various incriminating material and digital devices,” it added.

Also Read: How drugs are brought into India: In weddings cards, by drones and hidden in sea cargo

The case

On 12 September last year, two containers arrived at Mundra Port from Afghanistan via Iran, ostensibly holding 38 jumbo bags filled with talc stones. Based on intelligence inputs, investigators of the DRI suspected there was more to the cargo.

When the containers were checked, three out of the 38 bags were found to contain heroin. Out of the 18 jumbo bags in the first container, two were found to contain 1,999.58 kg of heroin. Of the 20 bags found in the second container, 988 kg of heroin was recovered from one of them. The seized high-quality contraband was estimated to be worth over Rs 21,000 crore in the international market.

So far, the NIA has arrested 10 people — five Afghans and five Indians — in connection with the case. Six others — one Iranian and five Afghans — are still on the run. 

A detailed charge sheet was filed in this case by the NIA  against 16 alleged narcotics traffickers, including Afghan and Iranian nationals. 

In the charge sheet filed before a special NIA court in Ahmedabad, the agency had alleged that the key accused had links to “Pakistan terror outfits” and that the proceeds from smuggling these drugs into the country were being routed back to Pakistan for “anti-India activities”. 

Evidence collected by the NIA also showed how the ring forged “a dozen documents”,  including GST invoices, custom clearance certificates, and company records; “greased many palms”; and rented premises in Delhi to store the drugs before trafficking them in  the country through a network of peddlers.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: 8 years in US prison, ‘drug hauls, money laundering’: The murky past of Paradiso’s Ashok Solomon


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