BENGALURU: Customs officials at the courier terminal of the Air Cargo Complex at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on Saturday seized 5.49 kg of Ephedrine worth around Rs 5 crore. The contraband drug was concealed between layers of wedding invitation cards to be smuggled to Australia by a Madurai-based exporter. “There were 86 polythene pouches in all,” an official statement said.
Joint Commissioner of Customs, M J Chetan, said that “during the verification of the export consignments at the courier terminal, the officials of the Central Intelligence Unit, Air Cargo Complex, detected the concealed powder. Detailed examination of the package revealed a huge racket in drug peddling. The package had 43 wedding invitation cards and a few garments. The two-sided, foldable cards were made of cardboard. The officials suspected the powder was packed in the cards.
On opening them, the officials found white crystalline powder packed in polythene pouches, which were concealed between the cardboard layers on each side of the cards,” the officer stated. Ephedrine is a controlled substance under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. The courier company has shared the CCTV footage of the sender and his documentary credentials with the Customs Department. “We will reveal the identity of the accused and his associates in a couple of days,” said the officer.
Officials seek link between two drug hauls
Customs officlas see a link in the latest incident with a similar consignment they had seized on February 18 at KIA. “That consignment of ephredine, worth over Rs 5 crore in the grey market, was concealed in bobbins, and was also reportedly booked by the same person at Madurai to be smuggled to Australia,” said an officer. He added that the smuggler had chosen a particular international courier company because in South India, it alone has a gateway to Australia through Bengaluru.
“We will coordinate with our counterparts in Australia to get a larger picture of the smuggling of contraband drugs,” he added. A special team has been sent to Madurai nab the accused, officials said.