Drug Seizures: How Customs Tracked “Suspicious” Shipments
BEHIND THE recent seizure of heroin of Rs 20,000 crore by the Directorate of Fiscal Intelligence (DRI) of the Port of Mundra, is a small team of officials from the General Directorate of Risk Analysis and Management of the National Center Customs Targeting Agency (NCTC) in Mumbai who analyzed and analyzed data for over a month to identify the two containers that contained approximately 2,990 kg of heroin in talc form.
The NCTC is the customs wing responsible for risk analysis and targeting of at-risk goods and passengers crossing borders. It uses machine learning and advanced indirect tax analytics to identify risky entities / transactions.
On September 16, DRI Ahmedabad seized heroin in two containers at the port of Mundra, which were declared to contain talcum powder or “semi-processed talc stones”, originating in Afghanistan and loaded into the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas. The containers, sources said, were imported by Aashi Trading Company, registered in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, from a company called Hasan Husain Ltd. Nine people have been arrested so far, including the owners of Aashi Trading.
According to sources, the NCTC team used several parameters such as the country of origin of the imported goods, the nature of the goods, the frequency of imports and the importer’s registration details, among others, to identify the suspicious cargo.
“Among other things, what aroused suspicion was that a company in Vijayawada was using the port of Mundra to import goods instead of the nearest port of Visakhapatnam, and the goods were declared as talc from Afghanistan when we know that the top two talc stone producers are China and Brazil, ”said a source.
“In this case, after NCTC officials identified the suspicious imports, they conducted an informal check on the importer and its head office, a house in Satyanrayanapuram in Vijayawada. The visit to Aashi Trading’s office confirmed customs doubts and an NCTC officer went to Ahmedabad to supervise the search and seizure of containers by DRI, ”the official said.
Sources said the investigation has so far indicated that India may be a transit destination and that heroin needs to be shipped in smaller batches, allegedly to European countries.
In July, the same NCTC team identified two containers at the port of Nhava Sheva in Mumbai declared to contain talc stones, as a result of which the DRI seized 293 kg of heroin worth Rs 2,000 crore. hidden in six burlap bags among other goods in the containers. The DRI subsequently arrested the importer, based in Tarn Taran, Punjab. The agency is also looking into the role of a politician in the case.
Since the start of the year, the NCTC has detected and helped seize more than 90 lakh of contraband cigarettes in Ludhiana and Mumbai; 2 kg of high quality marijuana in Delhi; and several trucks filled with imported tires and photocopiers in Kolkata and Mundra respectively.