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Indian Officials Bust Giant Heroin Shipment at Mundra Port

rajat kansal
Mundra Port (file image courtesy Rajat Kansal / CC BY SA 3.0)

Published Sep 22, 2021 12:10 AM by The Maritime Executive

Indian officials have seized about three tonnes of Afghan heroin from containers at the port of Mundra, Gujarat, marking one of the country's largest opiate busts ever. 

The shipment was marked as "semi-processed talc stones," and it was split between two containers arriving from Bandar Abbas, Iran. Acting on a tip-off, officials searched the boxes and found heroin stacked underneath the talc. 

Officials have arrested the couple who ran the import firm behind the talc cargo, Aashi Trading. The company is a small operation based out of a leased house in Vijayawada, a small city the other side of the country from Mundra. The lessee, Govindaraju Durga Purna Vaishali, has been arrested; Aashi Trading's owner, Vaishali's husband Machavaram Sudhakar, is also in custody. 

“The heroin in the guise of talcum powder was intended to reach Delhi," a local police commissioner told Times of India. 

On Tuesday, an official told Hindustan Times that the couple allegedly received a commission of $16,000 to handle the shipment. “Their role in smuggling drugs . . . is being investigated but they appear to be small players as their commission was very low," the official said. Indian investigators are looking at a network of Afghan nationals who are believed to be the primary masterminds of the scheme. 

According to early claims, the stash of the lucrative drug has a total value of about $2.9 billion; however, UNDOC price data puts the wholesale value of the cargo at a small fraction of that amount, about $60-90 million. It is unquestionably one of the largest heroin busts in recent years, outpacing recent "historic" seizures in Europe by a factor of two. 

Top image: Mundra Port (Rajat Kansal / CC BY SA 3.0)