Andhra shell firm used as front to smuggle Rs 20,900cr Afghan heroin

1 month ago 19
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Afghanistan is the largest producer of poppy, from which heroin is synthesized (File photo)

VIJAYAWADA: A nondescript house on the outskirts of Andhra Pradesh’s Vijayawada has suddenly become the talk of the town after the seizure of one of the biggest consignments of heroin at Mundra port in Gujarat last week. The narcotics stock, valued at around Rs 20,900 crore, was seized by sleuths of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) from two shipping containers that had arrived from Afghanistan via Bandar Abbas port in Iran.
The Vijayawada link in the whole thing came to light as the ‘talcum powder’ consignment was imported by Aashi Trading company, the address of which is the nondescript yellow-coloured house located on an isolated corner of a street in Satyanarayanapuram area of the city. The place was found to be rented in the name of the trading company by a woman from Chennai, identified as Govindaraju Durga Purna Vaishali.
DRI sources said the company’s contact number is linked to one Machavaram Sudhakar, who is the husband of Vaishali and a native of AP’s Kakinada. The import and export licence (IEC code) of the company is in the name of Vaishali, while its GST registration was done on August 18, 2020. The couple has been staying in Chennai for the past eight years in a rented apartment in Kolapakam area of the city. Sources said Vaishali has been taken into custody by DRI, while Sudhakar, who is suspected to be the prime accused, is on the run.
Vijayawada police commissioner B Sreenivasulu told TOI that the consignment was actually headed to Delhi. “The heroin in the guise of talcum powder was intended to reach Delhi, not Vijayawada. So far, we have found no proof of any Vijayawada connection in the whole thing except the importing company’s address. We are in coordinating with the DRI and investigating the case from all angles,” he said, adding that Aashi Trading seems to have been used as a shell company to obtain import and export licence for illegal smuggling.
Barring the name and GST registration number of the firm, which was found to be typed on an A4 sheet paper and pasted on the wall of the house, there’s nothing in the vicinity to suggest that a company exists there. People staying in the neighbourhood said the place has remained shut since many months. However, prior to that, they do acknowledge that they have seen consignments being dropped and picked up from the place.
“We were told by a caretaker of the place once that the company deals with food essentials such as rice, fruits, vegetables, etc. But the place has remained locked since long,” a woman residing in the same neighbourhood said.

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