By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, Oct. 10:
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 in Navi Mumbai.
The cocaine was hidden in the boxes filled with pears and green apples. Based on specific intelligence developed by DRI Mumbai Zonal Unit, the container was intercepted on October 06. Upon examination, it was revealed that a large number of bricks made up of high-quality cocaine and weighing approximately 1 kg each, were concealed inside the boxes of green apples. Total 50 such bricks weighing 50.23 kg and valued at Rs 502 crore in illicit market were recovered during the examination.
The importer- Vijin Varghese was booked under the provisions of NDPS Act, 1985. This was second time he was booked by the DRI. He is stated to be 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 seizure of 198 kg methedrone and 9 Kg cocaine from a consignment of oranges originating from South Africa.
It may be recalled that on September 30, DRI officers had seized the 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 making further investigation.
The seizure at Nhava Sheva, is one of the largest seizures of cocaine attempted to be smuggled through sea containers in recent past. This is a part of 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 10 days, a DRI statement read.