Mumbai The airport customs officials arrested a Zimbabwean woman for trying to smuggle heroin and methamphetamine worth close to ₹60 crore to India. The woman is from a poor financial background and suffering from cancer. The drug cartel, which was using her as a ‘mule’, had promised to look after her medical expenses.
On the basis of Intelligence developed by Air Intelligence Unit (AIU), Mumbai, one suspicious passenger was intercepted at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) on Saturday night.
The passenger, who has been identified as Harare resident Rosie Diamon, is in her early 40s. She had arrived from Harare to Mumbai via Kigali on Saturday by RwandAir flight WB-500.
“The examination of the baggage resulted in the recovery of 7,006 grams of yellowish powder tested as “Heroin” and 1,480 grams white crystal granules tested to contain a combination of Heroin and ‘Methamp’ (short form of Methamphetamine). The said drugs were subsequently seized,” said an AIU official.
The seized drugs collectively weighing 8.486 kg are worth approximately ₹59,40,20,000 in the illicit market. The drugs were ingeniously concealed inside the trolley bag, in the executive bag and two file folders.
During questioning, the passenger informed that the drugs were handed over to her in Harare and the same were to be delivered in New Delhi. After reaching Mumbai, she was slated to travel to New Delhi by train a few days later. This was to ensure minimum risk of travelling with contraband to the capital, a customs officer told HT.
The accused was offered free medical treatment in India in lieu of trafficking drugs, the AIU officer added. She now faces a sentence of 20 years.
Drug cartels select ‘carriers’ very cleverly. They target those people from African countries who come from poor economic backgrounds or have certain medical conditions and wish to travel abroad for medical tourism.
“It becomes easy for the racket members to use people looking for medical tourism as their mules, as chances of them getting caught or coming under law enforcers’ scanner are lesser because of their genuine medical history,” another officer said.
The cartels offer ‘mules’ commissions ranging from $500-$700 per trip. Their family is paid the amount after the drugs reach the destination or they promise to sponsor the entire medical treatment.
Anti-narcotics agencies generally find it difficult to dig out information from mules about the person who is next in the chain as they are not aware who is going to come to take the contraband. And even if they know, they would not reveal anything because if the cartels get to know about it then they punish their families for the betrayal, the officer added.
The arrested foreigner claimed that she was told that the person who was supposed to receive the delivery of the contraband would himself contact her on reaching Delhi. Customs officers are scanning her phone and are trying to find out details of her associates.
This is not the first time that she has come to India. She had previously visited India in the year 2019, but she had not smuggled any contraband last time.
The arrested woman has been charged under relevant sections of Customs Act for smuggling drugs. She was produced before the court that remanded her to judicial custody till February 25. After her RT-PCR test, she would be lodged in jail.