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Two African women held with drugs worth Rs 28 crore

In a major breakthrough by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), a drug syndicate comprising women from African countries was busted on Saturday. The NCB arrested two women from Tanzania and Zambia with 4 kilogram of high quality Colombian cocaine amounting to Rs 28 crore in the international market.

The NCB is of the view that the African drug cartel may be based in South America and has started employing African women from poor countries to bypass the airport security. The agency is also on the look-out for two more traffickers, who will soon be apprehended.

The tip-off

According to the NCB Zonal Director, Madho Singh, the agency had received a tip-off that a Zambian woman, Thelma Mkandawire, was carrying a large consignment of cocaine and was going to arrive at IGI Airport.

"She was coming from Ethiopia and had boarded a European airline flight. She was carrying a suitcase in which the drugs were concealed inside specially-made cavities. She managed to get past the security as black polythene was used to conceal the contraband from scanners," said Madho Singh.

A team was constituted which scanned the airport and managed to identify the woman while she was getting her clearance from the airport. She boarded a private taxi and the team started tailing her. She finally reached a private hotel in South Delhi's Mahipalpur area.

The NCB team sat and watched, while Thelma made contact with the Tanzanian woman, Pamela Devid Kiritta. "As we watched, she met Pamela and they made their way into the hotel.

The team immediately acted and managed to apprehend both of them. The baggage which belonged to Thelma was confiscated and was thoroughly searched. We found a cavity in which the cocaine was found," Madho Singh added.

The African connection

When Pamela was questioned, she had told the investigators that she has been staying in a flat at Vasant Kunj since January 20 this year. She has so far visited the country nine times since 2006 and is reportedly well aware of the local drug market. "She has visited Delhi and also visited Hyderabad, Mumbai and various other countries. The Zambian woman was a mule but she definitely seems to be a trafficker, as she was also arrested once in Pakistan for drug trafficking in 2015. She has regularly been visiting countries like South Africa, Equador and Kenya," Madho Singh added.

African cartels and the Ethiopian route

The agency is now on the look-out for the main kingpin of the gang who is reportedly based in South Africa. The myriad drug trade has taken various routes in the past. In this case, the cocaine had come from Brazil and made its way to Ethiopia after which it reached Delhi.

According to NCB officials, the connectivity of Brazil is fundamental for the trafficker to traffic cocaine from Bolivia, Colombia and Peru. From Brazil, cocaine usually travels to Adis Ababa and reaches Delhi. "The traffickers have radically changed their modus operandi and have started dealing in relatively small amounts to avoid life sentences. Their cartel members wait outside courts to bail them out and now we are seeing that the African traffickers have shifted their base of operations to sub cities like Noida," Singh added.
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