How Gujarat ports remain a hot transit point for drug smugglers after the recent Mundra seizure

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The frequency of drug shipments arriving in India via Gujarat has not decreased, although authorities have closely monitored them after the major drug shipment at the Port of Mundra last year.

Recently the Gujarat Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) seized drugs worth Rs 350 crore and the operation is still ongoing.

In a joint operation based on a tip from Punjab Police, Gujarat ATS seized 75kg of heroin from a container of unsewn clothing at Mundra Port. Investigations into the matter are ongoing, DGP Punjab Police Department Gaurav Yadav said on Tuesday.

Sources say the shipment reached the Port of Mundra from Dubai, but officials believe it originated from Afghanistan.

The shipment was parked at a port facility where other temporary shipments were being held after customs clearance. Some insiders are believed to have played key roles in the supply of the drugs. It is also expected that the amount of confiscations may increase by the end of the operation.

The ATS, together with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), had seized Rs 1,300 crore worth of heroin at the port of Kandla in April.

Similarly, in the world’s largest seizure of heroin at Mundra Port last year, authorities seized drugs worth Rs 21,000 crore.

Importantly, another multi-million rupee package of drugs, like the most recent shipment at Mundra port, was safely removed with no trace of government officials stationed at the airport. This was one of the biggest mistakes made by the agencies deployed in the Port of Mundra.

The matter is also being looked into by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which jointly investigated the cases of shipments from the Port of Mundra last year.

Drug traffickers fearlessly transport drugs in containers and have turned ports into a new playground for smuggling. This is proving to be the greatest threat to drug terrorism, as the containers contain vast quantities of drugs and a single mistake by the port authorities can result in millions of dollars in profits for the peddlers.

Since 2020, secret services have been dealing with the new trend that poses challenges for security authorities when guarding virtual borders. The transport of large quantities began during the first lockdown imposed due to the Covid-19 outbreak last year.

However, the agencies deployed in the port also say they have poor facilities and some of them work in poor conditions.

According to the Interior Ministry, the condition of the other 21 seaport-integrated checkpoints (ICPs), staffed by state government personnel, is worse than the ICPs controlled by the Immigration Service (BoI). Although BoI has provided the necessary technical items, for example computers, webcams at these seaport ICPs, the space and infrastructure provided to the immigration staff is woefully inadequate.

“In the recent past there has been strong pressure from Port Trusts and Tour Operators for BoI to perform the immigration function at berths where there is no dedicated line connection, which is non-negotiable as without data flow from the main server in Delhi, security verification and immigration clearance cannot be performed says the MHA.

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