This lehenga is very mehenga: Drugs worth Rs 1.7 crore seized at Delhi airport

Criminals had hidden 3,900 grams of MDMA, which is also known as 'ecstasy', in the colourful traditional lehnga

This lehenga is very mehenga: Drugs worth Rs 1.7 crore seized at Delhi airport
Lehenga seized by customs department from which drugs worth Rs 1.7 crore was recovered. Image courtesy: Delhi Customs Department

Are the Indian airports turning into transit hubs for drug peddlers and smugglers? There have been numerous attempts to smuggle gold and other valuable items and drugs through Indian airports in the past few months.

A lehenga seized by the customs department at the Delhi airport on February 9 was estimated to be around Rs 1.7 crore. The exorbitant price for the garment was not because it was made by a global designer, but a consignment of drugs was being smuggled in it. 

Criminals had hidden 3,900 grams of MDMA, which is also known as 'ecstasy', in the colourful traditional lehnga, or an ankle-length skirt worn by women, especially during weddings. 

Officials said that the consignment which was being sent to Australia was appearing to be a usual package of clothes but the foreign post office (PFO) in Delhi had a special tip-off following which they opened and scanned the consignment.

The banned drug was found concealed in the golden laces of the lehenga. MDMA is a synthetic drug that is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens, which can lead to liver, kidney and heart failure and even death.

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Similarly, a consignment of hashish and methamphetamine crystals concealed in digital weighing machines was seized by Chennai  Air Cargo Customs on February 10. The consignment weighing 44 kg was worth Rs 5.1 crore. Customs department has so far arrested two people in the case.

Based on intelligence, officers of Chennai Air Cargo Customs intercepted an export consignment, which was destined for Doha.

Officials said the consignment of seven packages contained 55 weighing machines. “All the packages were opened and examined. On lifting, the weighing scale appeared to be unusually heavy. All the weighing machines were opened and it was found that there was concealment in 52 machines,” said an official. 

Drugs concealed in weighing machine. Image courtesy: Chennai Air Cargo Customs

He added that it was noticed that there was a specially designed metal box fixed by tape to the bottom of the scale. On opening the box two pieces of dark brown material in cake form was wrapped with plastic strips and sheets found concealed inside. 

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A total of 44 kg of hashish valued at Rs 4.4 crore was recovered from 44 machines. Also, 700 grams of methamphetamine crystals valued at Rs 70 lakh were recovered from two machines. Both hashish and meth crystals valued together at Rs. 5.1 crore were seized under the NDPS Act. 

Additionally, officials said that 1620 grams of pregabalin capsules -- a prescription drug used in anxiety disorder and fibromyalgia -- were recovered from six machines and seized. This drug does not fall in a controlled drug list in India, but in many countries abroad, it is a controlled drug. The exporter of the consignment M/s Sree Aalaya has been arrested.