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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested two more key operatives in the over 102 kg Attari drug seizure case in Punjab’s Amritsar district last year, the agency said on Friday. The case involved the recovery and seizure of a total of over 102 kg of heroin, valued at approximately¬†?¬†700 crore, in April 2022. The drug was smuggled into the country concealed in a consignment of licorice roots (mulethi).

The two accused, identified as Deepak Khurana alias Deepu of Ferozepur (Punjab) and Avtar Singh alias Sunny of Jamia Nagar in South Delhi, were arrested on Thursday.

With the fresh arrests, a total of five accused have been taken into custody in the case so far.

“Financial investigations and the examination of the associates of the accused have revealed that Deepak Khurana was not only a drug dealer and drug quality tester but also a handler of ‘proceeds of drugs’. And Avtar was involved in the distribution of drugs, the handling of cash and laundering the drug proceeds through banking and hawala channels,” the NIA said in a statement.

Both the accused have been identified as long-term associates of the prime accused, Razi Haider Zaidi and Shahid Ahmed, alias Qazi Abdul Wadood, the agency said.

NIA investigations showed that Deepak and Avtar were key operatives in the larger conspiracy hatched by the international drug cartel for the supply of drugs to various distributors in India and the channelling of the proceeds of the drugs to the main foreign-based accused persons.

As per the NIA, the drug seizures in the instant case were made in two instalments, on April 24 and 26, 2022, by the Indian Customs Department when the narcotics arrived in the country from Afghanistan via Integrated Check Post (ICP) Attari in Punjab’s Amritsar. The total value of the narcotics was approximately ? 700 crore.

The NIA investigation further revealed that the consignment was sent to India by absconding accused Nazir Ahmed Qani, a resident of Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan, on the directions of Dubai-based absconding accused Shahid Ahmed alias Qazi Abdul Wadood was meant to be delivered to Razi Haider Zaidi in India, for further distribution in various parts of the country.

On December 16, 2022, the NIA filed a chargesheet against Shahid Ahmed and Nazir Ahmed Qani, along with two others, identified as Razi Haider Zaidi and Vipin Mittal. Razi and Vipin were arrested earlier in the case.

Another accused, Amritpal Singh, was arrested on December 15 last year while attempting to flee the country. He was arrested after proceeds of narcotics amounting to ? 1.34 crore were recovered from him and frozen under relevant legal provisions.