The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has busted a huge trans-border drug racket and arrested the two Sri Lankan Tamil operatives identified as MMM Nawas and Mohamed Afnas. The operatives were nabbed from Chennai, where they were living by concealing their real identities. The NCB officials have seized 100 kg contraband valued at Rs 1,000 crore.
The agency said that the syndicate was based out of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, however, the mastermind’s appendage was spread across Afghanistan, Iran, the Maldives and Australia.
According to reports, NCB and it’s Sri Lankan counterpart had joined hands in November 2020 to probe a heroin seizure from a Sri Lankan fishing vessel, “Shenaya Duwa”. As a part of the probe, NCB and the Indian Coast Guard intercepted a vessel near the Tuticorin Port and conducted a search. This led to the recovery of 95.87 kg of heroin, 18.32 kg of methamphetamine. Six Sri Lankan crew members of the vessel were arrested and five pistols and magazines, which were recovered from them, were also seized by the NCB officials. The crew members are said to be in judicial custody at present, informed NCB.
An NCB official said that the NCB was aware of the international links of the racket, especially in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. “Hence, we began to probe every available thread in the case and soon found that two key operatives in the racket were living in Chennai”. The NCB subsequently rounded up Nawas and Afnas, who had fled Sri Lanka as the authorities were closing in on them. “There is an Interpol Red Corner Notice issued by the Sri Lankan government against Nawas,” the officer said.
NCB Deputy Director KPS Malhotra informed that Sri Lanka and the Maldives are the two important transit points of the death triangle also called the Golden Crescent comprising Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan for processed heroin. He said that the heroin produced in the death triangle is loaded in fishing vessels and set on the sail from the ports of Iran and Pakistan. It is then loaded into similar vessels from Sri Lanka and the Maldives in a mid-sea transfer.
“There is a big network of foreign entities controlling this lucrative trade. Intelligence developed by the NCB and Indian agencies over a period of time indicates that Pakistani drug traffickers lodged in Sri Lankan prisons for drug offences control this trade and they source and deliver large quantities of heroin from golden crescent countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran) to Sri Lankan and Maldivian entities,” a senior NCB officer said.