Major drug haul in Tamil Nadu airport

February 26th, 2008 - 12:28 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Thai Airways

Chennai, Feb 25 (IANS) Customs officials recovered 25 kg of the internationally banned party drug Ketamine worth over Rs.25 million from a 22-year-old passenger at the airport here Monday. According to officials, the passenger, Mohammed Nasser, was booked on a Thai Airways flight to Taiwan via Bangkok. He has been remanded in judicial custody.

Officials suspect Nasser to be part of a major smuggling syndicate because he had attempted to hide the banned substance in the false bottoms of stainless steel containers normally used for vending tea.

During the last year nearly 300 kg of the contraband worth Rs.300 million has been seized in Chennai alone.

Though Nasser has given a south Chennai address, officials suspect that he is part of a gang anchored in Ramanathapuram, in the southern part of the state.

“For every person caught, probably 10 have got through,” a customs official said on condition of anonymity.

Central intelligence sources believe this illegal trade funds antisocial and terrorist activity in the state.

“The illicit trade involves strange bedfellows here. One of the origins of this banned activity is the LTTE - which sees itself diametrically opposed to Muslims of Sri Lanka who claim a separate identity despite speaking the common language - Tamil,” police sources added.

Ketamine, a variant of an anaesthetic developed by the multinational pharmaceutical company Parke-Davis in 1962, was primarily meant for veterinary consumption. When over-used by humans sans medical supervision, it increases blood pressure and causes hallucinations.

It has been banned worldwide since 2003.

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