Cop found involved in cross-border smuggling via drones

Published August 30, 2023
In this file photo, people gather in Lahore’s Kahna after a drug-laden drone crashed in the area on July 7. — Photo by Wasim Riaz/File
In this file photo, people gather in Lahore’s Kahna after a drug-laden drone crashed in the area on July 7. — Photo by Wasim Riaz/File

LAHORE: A case has been registered against a senior official of the Lahore police, who headed the anti-narcotics wing of the city police, for his alleged involvement in cross-border drug smuggling via drones.

Lahore DIG (Investigation) Imran Kishwar confirmed the “involvement of a DSP”, saying that the official was booked by the ANF.

“We have constituted a high-powered committee of senior police officers to further expand the scope of the investigation into the illegal cross-border smuggling of the drug,” the DIG told Dawn.

He said that Lahore SSP Internal Accountability (IAB) Tauqeer Naeem would head the committee while SP Crime Record Officer Aftab Phularwan and a DSP would assist him in this matter.

Departmental action has already been initiated against the police officer, he said, adding that further proceedings would be made in the light of the inquiry report.

Sources say DSP caught, then let off suspected drug dealer after allegedly taking a bribe

The issue came to the fore in July this year after a drone carrying six kilogrammes of drugs, worth millions of rupees, crashed in the outskirts of the provincial capital.

Sources said the issue was escalated to the prime minister after reports suggested that some elements were sending drugs from Kasur to India through drones.

They further suggested that a gang of drug traffickers were using unmanned aerial vehicles to smuggle huge quantities of methamphetamine (locally known as ice) from Lahore to India.

Sources said a drone could carry up to six kilogrammes of drugs, which would be delivered at a given location in Indian Punjab after flying across the border.

The use of technology to smuggle drugs sent alarm bells ringing in the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), evident from recent arrests made by the force.

A subsequent probe revealed that DSP Mazhar Iqbal, who secured interim bail after a case was registered against him, was also involved in the alleged smuggling.

‘Rs75m bribe’

Sources said the DSP facing the probe arrested an alleged smuggler, Ahmed, and recovered “35kg heroin” from the suspect.

However, the officer allegedly let the man off the hook after taking Rs75 million from the suspect along with three vehicles.

The FIR registered against Ahmed, who was running his drug business from the Cantt area, mentioned the recovery of merely 450 grams of heroin.

The suspect was detained again in an ANF raid, after he was allegedly released by the DSP, sources said, adding that another prime suspect named Fiaz — believed to be a ‘front man’ for the DSP — was also nabbed in connection with the cross-border smuggling.

The suspect claimed that he was “privately working for the DSP in the cross-border smuggling of meth and added that the business had been going on for the past several years.

According to police, drones would drop off drug bundles at a given location in Indian Punjab and return.

The smugglers on both sides of the border were using “some means of communication to get alerts about the delivery of the drug”, the officials said.

They added that payments against these drugs would be made in the UAE.

After a drone carrying drugs crashed in Kahna last month, the police officials seized the drone, handed over the drugs to the ANF and then closed down the case probably to avoid controversy.

Such an incident had also come to the limelight in Narowal when the local police arrested some five suspects allegedly involved in cross-border heroin smuggling via drones.

During the course of the probe, the police had also confiscated a control device, eight batteries and automatic weapons.

Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2023

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