Mundra Port is controlled by the Adani Group (File image: Wikimedia Commons)
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), acting on an intelligence input, has seized nearly 3,000 kg of heroin from Afghanistan at the Mundra Port, located in coastal Gujarat's Kutch district.
DRI sources told CNN News 18 that the two consignments of heroin, a banned narcotic substance, were seized on September 15. An initial investigation estimated its street value at Rs 3,500 crore. Six days later, it was found to be worth around Rs 20,000 crore, they said.
The containers loaded with Afghan heroin were shipped from Bandar Abbas Port in Iran, and were reportedly imported by a Vijayawada-based entity -- Aashi Trading Company, the agency said in a statement.
One of the seized containers was loaded with 1,999.58 kg of heroin, and another contained 988.64 kg, it added.
The substance recovered from the containers was examined in the presence of experts from Forensics Science Lab, Gandhinagar. In the tests conducted by FSL, the presence of heroin was confirmed.
The DRI has arrested a Chennai-based couple -- Govindaraju Durgapurn Vaishali and her husband Machhavaram Sudhakar -- who had allegedly imported these containers through Aashi Trading Company, claiming that "they were importing talcum powder," CNN News 18 reported.
They were arrested under provisions of the stringent Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance (NDPS) Act, 1985. The accused have been sent to a 10-day judicial custody by a court in Gujarat's Bhuj.
Searches were also conducted in Ahmedabad, Gandhidham and Mandvi in Gujarat, and also in Delhi and Chennai.
DRI sources told the news channel that three more accused have been arrested -- in Mumbai. Out of them, two are said to be Afghan nationals. However, they were yet to release the names of those nabbed.
Sources added that the heroin was first shipped to Bandar Abbas Port by Hasan Hussain Ltd, an entity based in Afghanistan's Kandahar.
Afghanistan is one of the biggest exporters of narcotic drugs, and, as per estimates, it accounts for nearly 85 percent of global heroin supplies, according to report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Following the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, it was feared that the illicit drug trade may expand, and the country may emerge as the world's biggest narco-state.
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), which controls the Mundra Port, said in a statement that its role is limited to running the port and is not charged with examining the contents of a shipment.
"We thank and congratulate the DRI & Customs teams for seizing the illegal drugs and apprehending the accused," Adani Group said in a statement.
"The law empowers the Government of India’s competent authorities such as the Customs and the DRI to open, examine and seize unlawful cargo. No port operator across the country can examine a container. Their role is limited to running the port," it added.
The company also marked its objection over a "malicious social media campaign" targeting Adani Group following the drug seizure at Mundra Port.
"We sincerely hope that this statement will put to rest the motivated, malicious and false propaganda being run on social media against the Adani Group. APSEZ is a port operator providing services to shipping lines. We have no policing authority over the containers or the millions of tonnes of cargo that pass through the terminals in Mundra or any of our ports," it said.