INDIA. Mumbai: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) last week seized cocaine worth over Rs 502 crore imported from South Africa from a container at Nhava Sheva port at Navi Mumbai.
The cocaine was hidden in the boxes filled with pears and green apples. Based on specific intelligence developed by the DRI Mumbai Zonal Unit, the container was intercepted on October 6.
Upon examination, it was revealed that many bricks made up of high-quality cocaine and weighing approximately 1 kg each were concealed inside the boxes of green apples.
A total of 50 such bricks weighing 50.23 kg and valued at Rs 502 crore in the illicit market were recovered during the examination.
The importer- Vijin Varghese, was booked under the NDPS Act, 1985. This was the second time the DRI booked him. He is the managing director of a Kerala-based fruit import company.
He was earlier arrested by DRI in a case in Vashi in Navi Mumbai involving the seizure of 198 kg mephedrone and 9 Kg cocaine from a consignment of oranges originating from South Africa.
It may be recalled that on September 30, DRI officers seized drugs worth Rs.1,476 crore from a truck carrying imported Valencia oranges. The consignment was ordered by “Yummitto International Foods India Private Limited,” which imports fruits from South Africa, Brazil, and other countries. Verghese was booked in that case.
His interrogation revealed that another Kerala resident Mansoor Thachaparamban and the owner of a South African fruit export firm-“More Fresh Exports SA Private Limited,” was the key supplier of the contraband. The DRI officials are conducting further investigations.
The seizure at Nhava Sheva is one of the largest seizures of cocaine attempted to be smuggled through sea containers.
“This is a part of a series of large drugs seizures made by DRI, Mumbai Zonal Unit ranging from 198 kg of methamphetamine and 9kg cocaine to 16 Kg heroine in last ten days,” a DRI statement read.