Narco terrorism biggest global security challenge

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Narco-terrorism is emerging as the biggest threat to global security and the seizure of unprecedented quantities of high-quality contraband drugs over the last two years has sent shock waves among the law enforcement agencies. 

“There’s a steep spike in the quantities of contraband shipments since the outbreak of the pandemic last year. It is because of the disruption of supply lines after land routes were closed,” said sources. Last year, Pakistan had closed three land routes with Afghanistan, which is the world’s largest producer of heroin.

The haul of nearly 3,000 kg of heroin, worth over Rs 21,000 crore, from Gujarat’s Mundra port on September 15 by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is said to be the “largest consignment of contraband heroin seized in the world,” according to sources. 

A look at the worldwide seizures of heroin this year confirms the claim. On February 23, 1,500 kg of heroin, with a street value of 45 million Euros, was seized at Rotterdam in the Netherlands by Customs officers in cooperation with the British National Crime Agency. The contraband was concealed in bags of Himalayan salt from Pakistan. This was the biggest seizure in the Western European country.

Mundra port heroin haul biggest so far

According to the Europol, on May 10, the Romanian authorities detected and seized 1,452 kg of heroin in two containers loaded with marble slates. The shipment had arrived at the Romanian port of Constanta from the Middle East. In India, the haul at the Mundra port, besides being the largest, is the third big consignment of heroin seized by the DRI this year.

On July 3, the central agency had seized 300 kg of heroin, concealed with gypsum, at Nhava Sheva port in Navi Mumbai. On August 10, the DRI had seized 191 kg of heroin concealed with liquorice at the Navi Mumbai port. All the three consignments of heroin had been shipped from Afghanistan via Bandar Abbas port in Iran. Besides heroin, the DRI had seized a shipment of 330 kg of cocaine, packed along with timber logs from Panama, at the Thoothukudi port on April 21.

According to sources, who are privy to information, there is a “possibility that the production, accumulation, arranging for logistics and shipment of such large consignments of heroin may have taken place before the regime change in Afghanistan, but the beneficiaries of the illegal drug trade could definitely be the Taliban.”

According to the United Nations, harvesting of opium provided about 12,000 jobs in Afghanistan in 2019. “It is also believed that the drug trade accounted for up to 60 per cent of the Taliban’s annual revenue,” the world body stated.

“Drug trafficking accounts for half of all transnational organised crime proceeds, providing a constant source of funding for other criminal activities and even threats such as terrorism,” the UN stated. As per the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) Report 2021, global opium poppy cultivation rebounded in 2020, rising by 24 per cent, compared with the previous year, to reach 2,95,000 hectares.