Drugs in bath-towel shipment from India seized

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Friday, January 28, 2011

TORONTO - After trying to smuggle drugs into Canada through cricket bats, balls, marble slabs, and mugs from India, police have now seized ephedrine hidden in a shipment of bath towel from India.

Ephedrine is used in the production of crystal meth.

The seizure announced Thursday by police is part of the Iran-linked international ring trying to smuggle opium worth $22 million inside cans of pickles and cherries, furniture and industrial belts.

Police have arrested nine people and are looking for three others, including a 46-year-old Indo-Canadian Lakhbir Shokar.

Giving details of the bust, police said they mounted Project Khiar - means cucumber in Farsi - in January last year after the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) intercepted two shipments of opium at Montreal port and seized 17.6 kilogrammes opium in the shape of pickled cucumbers and 98.7 kilogrammes hidden in a refrigerator.

During the year-long operation, they intercepted more shipments of opium where the drug was found hidden in industrial bolts, cherry syrup and wardrobe closets.

They also intercepted a shipment of bath towels from India which contained ephedrine hidden inside it.

Keeping an eye on shipments coming to Toronto, police busted the Iran-linked drug syndicate. The drug haul included about 189 kilogrammes of opium valued at about $13 million and 44 kilogrammes of ephedrine valued at about $8.8-million.

Police also seized 20 diamonds, four luxury vehicles and Canadian currency from the drug gang.

Canada has become an easy smuggling hub for syndicates with global links to make a quick buck because of its lax drug laws and criminal system.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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