Mumbai Crime: Two held for shipping crystal meth to South Africa

After South African Revenue Services recovered 22.95 kg of the drug from the air cargo of O R Tambo Airport, Johannesburg, Customs officials in Mumbai arrested a Nigerian national and a city-based exporter

Two key members of an international drug cartel were arrested after a consignment they sent containing crystal methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, was apprehended from OR Tambo international airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.

South African Revenue Services intercept a consignment of worktables and handbags, in which 22.95 kg of crystal meth is found concealed
South African Revenue Services intercept a consignment of worktables and handbags, in which 22.95 kg of crystal meth is found concealed

One of them is an exporter based out of Masjid Bunder while the other is a Nigerian national. The arrest was made by the commissioner of Customs (export), Air Cargo Complex, and his team, aided by the South African Revenue Services (SARS) on Wednesday. The accused have been identified as Vijay Haria, an exporter, and Ifeanyichukwu Joseph Ijeli (35).

After SARS officials inform the Customs in Mumbai, they arrest Vijay Haria, owner of Blue Impex, an exporting firm in Masjid Bunder
After SARS officials inform the Customs in Mumbai, they arrest Vijay Haria, owner of Blue Impex, an exporting firm in Masjid Bunder

According to the Customs officials, last week the manager of Kenya Airways in Mumbai informed them that SARS officials had intercepted consignments of office tables weighing 42 kg and women’s handbags weighing 82 kg from the cargo of OR Tambo international airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. In concealed cavities of the items, they had found 22.95 kg of crystal meth that is valued at Rs 3.8 crore on the international market.

Haria tells the Customs authorities that the shipment belongs to Nigerial national Ifeanyichukwu Joseph Ijeli. Officials ask him to call Ijeli to his office on some pretext
Haria tells the Customs authorities that the shipment belongs to Nigerial national Ifeanyichukwu Joseph Ijeli. Officials ask him to call Ijeli to his office on some pretext

“This drug (crystal methamphetamine) is in huge demand in foreign countries. With Christmas approaching, the demand for this narcotic drastically increases,” an assistant commissioner of customs who appeared in court for the hearing of the case said, on condition of anonymity, adding, “the cartel we busted has sent seven such consignments in the past. It indicates that there is a large group involved.”

As Ijeli arrives, the waiting officials arrest him. Illustrations/Amit Bandre
As Ijeli arrives, the waiting officials arrest him. Illustrations/Amit Bandre

Based on the information, Customs officials communicated with SARS officials and found out that the consignment belonged to Indian exporter Blue Impex, whose office is located at Narsi Natha Street in Masjid Bunder.

“We first traced the customs clearing agent who confirmed that the said consignment belonged to Vijay Haria, owner of Blue Impex. We arrested Haria and he revealed that the said shipment belonged to one Nigerian national,” a Customs officer said.

The officials then asked Haria to call the Nigerian to his office on some pretext, and lay in wait. As Ijeli arrived, Customs officers arrested him and took him into custody. The duo was booked under Narcotics Drug and Psychotropic Substances Act, and produced before the metropolitan court. They were remanded in judicial custody till December 3.

The Customs officials said that Ijeli is a tough nut to crack, and that he has not been cooperating with the investigators. “He has neither allowed us to click his photographs, nor has he signed on any papers till now. We have built our case on the supportive evidence from SARS officials and other corroborative evidence,” added another Customs official.

Crystal meth
Crystal meth is short for crystal methamphetamine, a form of the drug. Methamphetamine is usually available in white crystalline form, and is consumed by snorting, smoking or injecting. Some even take it orally, but all users develop a strong desire to continue using it because of the false sense of happiness and well-being it creates.

Effects
The effects of the drug include a rush of confidence, hyperactivity and energy, and last for six to eight hours. An overdose can also lead to memory loss and depression. Crystal meth is largely manufactured on the north-east border of India.

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