In December 2022 finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while addressing senior officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) asked the agency to go after big drug lords. On Friday, the chief justice of India Justice D.Y. Chandrachud made a significant observation that the central agencies went only after small distributors of narcotics and not after the drug kingpins. The CJI was hearing a bail application moved by a poppy cultivator whose bail application was opposed by the Narcotics Control Bureau even though he has serviced five years in jail.
𝗥𝗶𝘀𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘀𝗮𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗵𝗶𝗴𝗵 𝘃𝗮𝗹𝘂𝗲 𝗱𝗿𝘂𝗴𝘀 𝗮 𝗯𝗶𝗴 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗿𝗻
The statements of the FM and the CJI statements come in the background of India emerging as a major destination and transit point of high-value drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. According to a report compiled by the DRI in the 2021-22 fiscal the seizures of high-value drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin witnessed record numbers. According to a report, the trend was disturbing. While 310 kg of cocaine was seized in 2021-22, in 2020-21 only 8.7 kg was seized. Last year, the Mumbai unit of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) seized a record 11,300 kgs of drugs while in 2021 it was only 1,780. A kilo of pure cocaine has a street value of over Rs 3.5 cr. Hence, the stakes for the drug mafia can well be imagined.
𝗗𝗮𝘄𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗜𝗯𝗿𝗮𝗵𝗶𝗺 𝗴𝗮𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝘁 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗺 𝗼𝗳 𝗱𝗿𝘂𝗴 𝗺𝗲𝗻𝗮𝗰𝗲
These worrying statistics show that drug smuggling has become a big time industry in India. Who are the key drug lords whom the DRI, the NRC and the anti-narcotics cells of the local police must be looking at? The Dawood Ibrahim gang leads the pack in pushing drugs from Afghanistan's Helmand valley into India. Earlier, Jubair Motiwala used to handle the mega trade for D Company, but following his arrest in London, his place has been taken by an Afghan who is simply known as Haji Mohammed. Like Dawood, Haji Mohammed is also based in Karachi from where he closely monitors the smuggling of drugs mostly through the Gujarat coast into India. The sale proceeds are sent to him through hawala operators in Mumbai. The entire network of D gang is used to facilitate the smuggling, transport and distribution of narcotics.
Kamal Chaddha is another operator who pushes drugs into south Mumbai. He is based in Dubai and often flies into Mumbai with impunity. Earlier Sharad Shetty of Jogeshwari used to handle D gang's drug smuggling in the UAE. But, following his murder in a club in 2003, his understudy Prem Shetty has taken over the business and hardly any effort has been made to extradite him. Niranjan Shah, an alleged narcotics dealer, was extradited by the PV Narasimha Rao govt. However, Prem Shetty has remained out of bounds for Indian agencies. Prem Shetty has major investments in posh hotels in prime locations of Mumbai and Mangalore on benami basis. The man fronting for him who is called Raja has now diversified into real estate redevelopment business which is witnessing a boom in the metropolis. Another close associate of Dawood has laundered proceeds from drug smuggling to real estate in a big way. He is also known to have links with the Lashkar e Tayyaba, the terror outfit of Pakistan. In fact, the security agencies even have a voice clip of his conversation with the Laskhar operative based in Muridke in Punjab province of Pakistan.
𝗔𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗴𝗶𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝗼𝗻 𝗗𝗮𝘄𝗼𝗼𝗱'𝘀 𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗲𝘀
Security agencies have submitted a detailed report of several properties purchased in Lucknow by a drug smuggler of Dawood gang. But, till date no effort has been made to seize these properties which are worth several hundred crores.
Santosh Shetty is another big-time operator whom the authorities have laid their hands on. He was earlier a close associate of Chhota Rajan, but later crossed over to D company where he handles important consignments.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)