In the first of its kind, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Mumbai has successfully busted an international network involved in illicit trafficking of khat leaves into India. Under the NDPS Act, catha edulis (dry chatt or mira leaves dry chat edulis) or commonly known as 'khat' is illegal in India.
Accordingly, intelligence was gathered wherein an international drug network based in the Middle East was involved in illicit import of Khat leaves into India. Accordingly, the intelligence was further garnered after which a group of Yemen nationals were identified. Subsequently, a close watch on the suspects was initiated, said Zonal Director of Mumbai NCB, Amit Ghawate.
"Soon, information was received wherein a consignment was being sent to India through international courier. Upon extensive data analysis, a parcel booked from Kenya was identified and on November 23, the parcel was intercepted at Foreign Post Office, Mumbai," said an NCB official.
He added, "When opened, multiple packets disclosed as tea were found which were containing dry leaves. When further examined, they were found to be Khat leaves with a total weight of 3.960 kgs. During investigation, information about another parcel of similar type was received which was also later on intercepted at FPO. When the other parcel was checked, similar packets declared as tea bags were found which when examined also had Khat leaves having a total weight of 2.989 kgs."
Accordingly, an investigation was launched after a few days, credible information about the kingpin was noted wherein he had informed a local associate to pick both the parcel consignments from a location at Masjid Bundar area. Immediate action by NCB-Mumbai was taken and a close surveillance was mounted in the area designated.
On November 29, a person arrived to enquire about the consignment and take delivery of them. As the consignments were received by him and was about to leave, officers of NCB-Mumbai intercepted him who identified himself as Galal NMAA, a Yemeni national.
"It will be pertinent to mention that Khat has been defined as an illicit drug in many countries and has been included in NDPS Act in 2018. In view of its exotic origin, Khat was noted to be gathering demand in local drug circuit which was resultantly invoking many drug cartels to provide its supply with hefty price in illicit drug market," the official said.