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3 cross-border drug smugglers nabbed by Punjab Police, riverine route preferred as International border gets flooded

Special task Force of Punjab Police with recovered 41 kg Heroin. (X)

Busting a major cross border narco-smuggling module Special Task Force (STF), Punjab seized 41kg heroin while it arrested 3 smugglers hailing from Amritsar. The gang was allegedly connected to Pakistani Intelligence agencies.

The trio had opted for a river route to smuggle contraband drugs from Pakistan and hid them under the brick floor of a cattle shed which was dug up for hiding the drugs. According to STF, the accused took advantage of flooded Ravi river to carry the consignment.

It may be noted that with floods blurring the border and providing easy opportunity of passage, smugglers try to get maximum quantity across the border.

The arrested accused have been identified as Agyapal Singh, the alleged kingpin and his two associates Ranjit Singh and Sandeep Singh of PanjGrain village of Amritsar district. The police also confiscated 4 mobile phones from their possession.

“The contraband was smuggled from Ravi river in Ramdas area around six days ago. The heroin recovered was smuggled via the Ravi river when the level of water increased recently. We are investigating the riverine route. The accused have confessed that five to six such consignments had already been smuggled from Pakistan. We are working to ascertain forward linkages of the accused, Agyapal Singh had contacts with Pakistan based drug smugglers and his links with Pak Intelligence agencies are being looked into,” said Assistance Inspector General (AIG) STF Mukhtar Rai.

A case under section 21/23/25/29 of NDPS act has been registered with STF police station at Mohali.

It may be noted that while currently drones seem to be the preferred mode of cross border smuggling, drug cartels in India and Pakistan are exploiting flood situations to smuggle drugs into India. The cartels, according to Intelligence agency reports, have employed divers to sail a 35 kilometres riverine area in Punjab’s Ferozepur, Gurdaspur and Amritsar sectors of the International Border. These divers are mainly using the Satluj and Ravi rivers to enter Punjab.

Known as drug couriers these are generally paid between ₹50,000-60,000 per kg of heroin but due to the ongoing floods, the incentive has been hiked to ₹1 lakh to ₹2.5 lakh per kg of heroin.

The release of excess water from Pong and Bhakra dams on August 14 has flooded many districts of Punjab along Sutlej and Beas. Floods in Sutlej have inundated many border villages and 15 border outposts of the BSF, besides damaging the barbed fencing on about 50km along the International Border.

A majority of BSF personnel had no choice but to retreat approximately 500 meters from the border. This situation has provided drug traffickers an opportunity to smuggle contraband by offering incentives to couriers based in both Pakistan and India. “Sleeper cells in collaboration with Pakistani drug mafia, are constantly looking for opportunities to exploit natural occurrences such as dense fog or flooding. But our forces are vigilant and capable of managing these situations effectively to thwart their sinister plans,” said Lakhbir Singh, AIG, counter intelligence, Ferozepur.

It may be noted that the police and Border Security Force (BSF) have seized 160kg of heroin from the border areas in Ferozepur and Fazilka between June 1 and August 20 with the arrest of six smugglers, including two Pakistanis, with firearms. The heroin seizure in the corresponding period last year was 40kg.

Also read : BSF and Punjab police nab two Pakistani cross-border smugglers with 29 kg heroin in Ferozepur