Mumbai officials this week started unraveling a cartel that smuggles Methaqualone, – a drug used to manufacture mandrax ÔÇô from India via Kenya into Botswana.
In a major drug bust at the Mumbai international airport, Customs officers caught two female African nationals from Mozambique with narcotics worth about P20 million as they were attempting to smuggle out the contraband from the country. Thirty kilogrammes of Methaqualone was seized from the women early on Monday before they were scheduled to board a flight to Botswana.
According to Mumbai officials, the duo belonged to the same cartel with another Mozambique lady arrested at the airport last month while trying to smuggle P10 million worth of Methaqualone to Botswana via Kenya.
According to officials of the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU), Mulima Anifa Raimundo Xavier (33) and Mate Ineida Noemia De Assuncao (36) were slated to board a Kenyan Airways flight to Gaborone via Nairobi on Monday. Officials said that the two had come from Delhi in a domestic flight around three days earlier and carried the drugs with them. Their handlers, who remain at large, handed over the drug to them in the national capital itself.
“The drugs are manufactured in the interiors of northern India by illegal chemical units, but transported and peddled by foreign nationals,” the officer added.?Customs sources said that at least 10 such women have been brought into the country by the cartel to mule drugs into the international market. Interestingly, this is the second such case at the airport since late July when female Mozambique nationals headed in the same route were caught with narcotics. On July 30, Mwendlane Catia Daclesa Francisco (22) from Mozambique was caught with 15 kg of Methaqualone worth P10 million bound for Botswana. Officers said that the accused in the latest case belongs to the same cartel.
This comes 12 months after South African border patrols discovered more than hundred million Pula worth of Methaqualone in trucks trying to cross into the country from Botswana. A number of international anti narcotics organisations have for years warned that Botswana is being used as trans-shipment point for precursor chemicals, especially Methaqualone, the main chemical used in the illicit manufacture of mandrax tablets.