Aviation Crime Drug trafficking

Customs to enhance checks on flights, ships to Maldives

KOCHI:  The Customs has decided to intensify checks on flights and ships heading towards the Maldives after a passenger was intercepted with hashish at the Cochin International Airport on Tuesday. Customs officers suspect drug cartels are using Sri Lanka and Maldives as transit to smuggle narcotic products from India. “It would become a matter of concern if the route to Sri Lanka and the Maldives is used by drug cartels to smuggle out contraband, especially narcotic products.

Apart from air connectivity, we have several smaller seaports in Kerala operating vessels to the Maldives and Sri Lanka. In the wake of the hashish seizure, all Customs formations in the state have been directed to enhance checking of aircraft and ships departing to the Maldives and Sri Lanka,” Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar said.

Customs officers believe cartels prefer to smuggle drugs to Bahrain via the Maldives, as authorities are more focused on monitoring the passengers who board a direct flight to West Asian countries. “Passengers on flights from India to West Asian countries will be thoroughly monitored to prevent drug smuggling. Choosing the Maldives or Sri Lankan route, they expect to evade arrest in Bahrain as well,” Sumit Kumar said.

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