The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Heroin in almonds from Kabul

New Delhi, April 28: Itís a new offer from the Kabuliwallah. But, with a caution: injurious to health.

The customs preventive unit realised this last week when they confiscated around 16 kg of heroin-stuffed almonds worth Rs 18 crore in the international market.

The unit, led by deputy commissioner Manish Mohan, came across an innovative way of pushing drugs when they caught an Afghan from Kabul after he alighted from an Ariana flight at Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Abdul Zahir, 35, confidently reported at the red channel for baggage clearance. The Afghan declared he was carrying 25 kgs of dry fruits, including almonds and cashew nuts, in his suitcase.

The sleuths were in for a major surprise when they started examining the neatly packed dry fruits. Of the 21 packets, each weighing 1 kg, the first three contained genuine almonds.

But when the fourth one was opened, they found that the brown-colour outer shell of each almond was missing. The Customs further discovered that, unlike genuine ones, these almonds would break if pressed hard.

It turned out that each almond was concealing 5 gm of heroin and there were 20,000 such pieces, airport customs officials said.

It took 24 hours to peel off the layer and dig out the contraband, a senior officer said.

On the face of it, the dry fruit looked normal, as even after stuffing them, the girth, length and size were not altered, he added.

The people involved in this illegal trafficking appeared to have mastered the art, sources said.

Zahir, who has been to India thrice earlier to look for a labourerís job, said a friend gave him the dry fruits, but claimed that he did not know anything about the heroin.

A person was supposed to collect the consignment from a city hotel, officials said. The accused claimed he was not aware about the conduitís identity, but the person was supposed to tell him a codename.

Zahir has been booked under various sections of the drug prevention Act.

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