Couple held with Afghan-bound contraband worth Rs.10 mn

May 23rd, 2009 - 9:38 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) Rabia Begum, a Delhi resident who was caught last year for allegedly trying to smuggle out controlled chemicals to Afghanistan for heroin manufacture, has been arrested again on the same charges, this time with contraband worth Rs.10 million.
Sleuths of Delhi Police’s crime branch arrested Rabia Begum, 45, and her husband Kalim Akhtar, 50, from their house in Sangam Vihar in south Delhi Friday. Police officials said they have recovered 200 litres of phenobarbital and 300 litres of acetic anhydrate.

“Begum was arrested last year also on the same charges of selling the same precursor chemical destined for Afghanistan. She had recently got bail and we were keeping a watch on her activities,” Additional Commissioner of Police Satyendra Garg told IANS.

“This time she roped in her husband and they were once again trying to illegally export these chemicals to Afghanistan.”

Both chemicals fall under the controlled category of psychotropic substances and its possession without a license is illegal and an offence under the Narcotic Drugs and Pshychotropic Substances Act.

The value of the contraband seized from the couple is estimated to be Rs.10 million in the international market. Around 300 litres of acetic anhydrate yields 150 kg of pure, fine quality white heroin that sells for Rs.1.5 billion in the global market.

Garg said Rabia Begum and her husband used to send the chemicals to Afghanistan by air by declaring the consignment as garments.

“Begum in her interrogation revealed that she was the key person behind this trade. Rabia Begum said she used to procure the psychotropic substance through her source and one Afghan Sikh was instrumental in illegally exporting these items outside India,” Garg said.

“She further engaged a cargo agent for sending the consignment by air to Afghanistan. The contraband were filled up in plastic cane and kept in garment bundles and sent to Afghanistan through airlines to Afghanistan.

“The accused say they have managed to send the same chemicals at least thrice to Afghanistan using the same modus operandi.”

Police said the invoice of the contraband consignment was given to the Afghan Sikh who used to receive the goods in Afghanistan to sell in the drug market. Police said raids were being conducted across India to make more arrests.

The development has sent the alarm bells rining among security agencies, as Afghans of Indian origin are believed to have been used by powerful drug syndicates in Afghanistan to procure raw materials from India to make narcotics.

Last year Delhi Police has arrested Satpal Singh and Amarjeet Singh, Afghans who originally hailed from India, for procuring 200 litres of acetic anhydrate from Rabia Begum and her accomplices. They are cooling their heels in Tihar Jail.

“It’s a very disturbing trend. The chemical has been finding its way into Afghanistan from its bordering countries and some Central Asian countries. India’s name figuring in the racket is really a cause for worry and various measures are being taken,” a senior official of the Narcotics Control Board (NCB) told IANS.

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