Drugs worth Rs 40 lakh hidden in orthotic belts, trophies bound for Australia, seized in Chennai

CHENNAI: Customs Air Intelligence Unit officials in Chennai seized pseudoephedrine powder worth over USD 54,000 or Rs 40 lakhs. The contraband was hidden in courier parcels bound for Australia via courier. The officials received intelligence inputs after which they took the suspicious parcels into their custody and examined it. The first parcel contained Lumbo-sacral orthotic belt (used for back pain and related ailments) and the other contained trophies, both of which were found to be unusually heavy. Officials cut open the box and recovered three plastic pouches with white crystalline powder inside. In all, the three pouches were carrying 24 smaller pouches that had about 2 kg of the powder.

In the second consignment, on opening the wooden base of the trophies, a plastic pouch containing 1 kg of white crystalline powder was found concealed inside each of them. A total of 2 kg of white crystalline powder was recovered from both trophies. Total 4 kg pseudoephedrine valued at Rs 40 lakhs was recovered and seized under the NDPS Act, 1985.

The white crystalline powder tested positive for Pseudoephedrine, a controlled substance covered under NDPS Act, 1985.

Pseudoephedrine is used for the temporary relief of nasal congestion and sinus pain/pressure caused by an infection such as clod/flu or other breathing illnesses. It works by narrowing the blood vessels to decrease swelling and congestion. It is also said to be used in higher doses to avoid drowsiness and increase the state of alertness.

Pseudoephedrine is a sought-after chemical precursor in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine, commonly known as Meth.

In low to moderate doses, methamphetamine can elevate mood, increase alertness, concentration and energy in fatigued individuals, reduce appetite, and promote weight loss.

"This is a new modus operandi of concealment and is difficult to detect, these smugglers are finding newer methods to sneak the contraband out of the country. Our last seizure of this drug was back in February this year. We have been maintaining vigil", Rajan Chaudhary, Commissioner of Customs, told WION.

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India's Covid case tally crosses 43 lakh-mark

The total number of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in India crossed the 43 lakh-mark on Tuesday while the country continues to remain at the second spot in the global tally of Covid-19 cases.

As per the Union Health Ministry's Covid-19 bulletin on Tuesday morning, India had 42,80,422 Covid-19 cases. However, since then, states have released their own data for Tuesday, taking the country's overall figure beyond the 43 lakh-mark.

On Tuesday, with 20,131 Covid-19 cases, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of cases in India.

Besides Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh recorded 6,743 cases, Tamil Nadu 5,684 cases and Delhi 3,609 cases.

The other states whose daily data for Tuesday are out include: Madhya Pradesh 1,864 cases, Punjab 1,964 cases, Uttarakhand 658 cases, Gujarat 1,295 cases, West Bengal 3,091 cases, J&K 1,355 cases, Meghalaya 42 cases and Mizoram 9 cases.

On Monday, India reported 90,802 cases (a global record), and on Sunday, the figure was 90,632. On Monday, India also surpassed Brazil to become the country with the second highest number of Covid-19 cases after the United States.

Besides this, on Tuesday, India recorded its highest daily Covid-19 deaths in more than a month.

As per Union health ministry, 1,133 people had died of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, the highest since July, taking total mortalities to 72,775.

However, new daily cases were at 75,809, the lowest in a week.

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