India’s burgeoning stockpile of seized illicit heroin

Dr. G. Shreekumar Menon

Major seizure of heroin (Representative photo)

India is witnessing an unprecedented spike in drug trafficking. Seaports, airports and land borders are seeing massive quantities of drugs being seized. Consider the latest data of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

All India major Drug seizures by all Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (DLEA’s) in the Year 2021

Total Arrests81,224
Opium (In Kg)4,650
Morphine (In Kg)129
Heroin (In Kg)7,154
Poppy Straw (In Kg)618495
Ganja (In Kg)787316
Hashish (In Kg)4,143
Ketamine (In Kg)1
Cocaine (In Kg)353
Methaqualone (In Kg)13
Pseudo / Ephedrine (In Kg)325
Acetic Anhydride (In Kg)24,265
Amphetamine types stimulant  (In Kg)379
All types Tablets (In Nos./Kg)2,88,01,120 No. 11,193 KG
Codeine Based Cough Syrup (Nos. of Bottles)12,68,591
* Provisional Data
        All India major Drug seizures by all Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (DLEA’s) in Year 2022* (Up to May)   Nomenclatures 2022* (Up to May) TOTAL CASES 24,739 Total Arrests 30,407 DRUG 2022* Opium (In Kg) 1184 Morphine (In Kg) 13 Heroin (In Kg) 848 Poppy Straw (In Kg) 1,79,228 Ganja (In Kg) 222044 Hashish (In Kg) 1226 Ketamine (In Kg) 3 Cocaine (In Kg) 12 Methaqualone (In Kg) 26 Pseudo / Ephedrine (In Kg) 33 Acetic Anhydride (In Kg) 280 Amphetamine types stimulant  (In Kg) 329 All types Tablets (In Nos./Kg) 16, 48,880 No. ,324 KG Codeine Based Cough Syrup (Nos. of Bottles) 3,13,244 * Provisional Data                       

In July 2022, 73Kg of Heroin, worth Rs 350 crores, was seized at Nhava Sheva port, in a joint operation by Maharashtra Police and Punjab Police. In a statement, the Punjab Police said 148Kg of Heroin was seized in July 2022 in various inter-state operations with the help of Central Agencies. The consignment was booked by a Punjab based importer. Though the consignment reached Mundra port from Dubai, investigators opine that it could have originated from Afghanistan.


The Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), in April 2022, along with the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had seized Heroin worth Rs.1300 crores from Kandla port.

In September 2021, the DRI had made a record seizure of 3000 Kgs of Heroin, estimated at Rs.21, 000 crores!

By a very modest estimate from the above data, Heroin seizures in 2021-22 (up to July 2022), has touched 5000 Kgs having an estimated value of over Rs. 30, 000 crores.

There can be no doubt that some giant drug cartels, in all probability, aided by inimical governments and their intelligence agencies, are behind these large scale operations. Many State governments and Central government Ministries cannot boast of such a massive budget! Whoever is the Don behind such huge Heroin drug trafficking, would have to be the equivalent of Drug lords like El Chapo and Pablo Escobar.

But, what is more worrying is that, India does not have any counterplan. Seizures are laudable, their enormous value means massive losses for the kingpins operating in well-guarded secrecy. What are we doing with the seized drugs? On an average, about 360,000 kg of narcotics of all varieties are seized in India by both central, state and local police.

On 26 June, UN International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, all enforcement agencies make a bonfire of seized drugs. This year was no exception. In a first, the Finance Minister virtually witnessed destruction of 44,000 kilograms of drugs incinerated simultaneously at 14 locations by the Customs and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) formations. In Mumbai the exercise was carried out at the Mumbai Waste Management Ltd., Taloja, one of the facilities notified by the Maharashtra State Pollution Control Board for disposal of Industrial and non-industrial hazardous and bio-medical waste.

On an average, about 360,000 kg of narcotics of all varieties are seized in India by both central, state and local police.

In June 2022,the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) burnt 101.260 Kgs of Heroin seized in 12 cases, whereas Chandigarh Police destroyed 1.053 Kgs Heroin, 0.495 Kgs Charas, 0.250 Kgs Poppy Husk, 16.6 Kgs Ganja, 48 Buprenorphine/ Pheniramine injections, 904 Tramadol Hydrochloride capsules in 36 cases.

In February 2022, the Andhra Pradesh Police destroyed an unprecedented 2 Lakh Kgs of seized ganja, valued at Rs. 850 crores. In Assam, in June 2022, the Police destroyed drugs worth Rs.35 crores. There were 3.3 kg of heroin, 150 kg of ganja, 1,000 cough syrup bottles and 5,000 tablets among the burnt drugs. Almost every State Government in India destroyed drugs in large quantities, which were seized from drug traffickers.

A larger issue that needs to be considered is why are we mindlessly destroying drugs? These drugs were sent to ruin and destroy our young population by foreign forces. Some consignments that get caught are destroyed by the enforcement agencies after obtaining permission from Courts, others that escape detection, ends up in the hands of unscrupulous peddlers who target youth to cause their destruction. Is there any logic in this burning policy? Should India be on the defensive constantly? No doubt there are international obligations to be observed, but which nation will guarantee the safety of the young of India? Kashmir which is regularly being bombarded by drug consignments from across the international border, has a drug affected youth population of over 2.5 lakhs. A recent report has shown that in the past three years Kashmir has witnessed a 1500% increase in drug abuse. A United Nation Drug Control Program (UNDCP) report in 2020 revealed that around 70,000 people, including 4000 women, in Kashmir were addicted to drugs. According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in Feb 2019, 600’000 people i.e. 4.6% of total population of Jammu and Kashmir used opioid drugs, while 80% of the drug addicts in Kashmir use heroin and morphine. What is this policy – “If we catch drugs we will burn it, if not, drugs will burn our youth”?

Do we not need to send a strong and powerful message to our neighbours that we will retaliate forcefully and in equal measure? What needs to be done is simple. Instead of burning thousands of kilos of Heroin and other drugs worth crores of Rupees, blister-pack or flow wrap them like lozenges in one gram packs. The language of our neighbours, whether in the West or in the North is to be imprinted on these attractive and colorful packs? India will thus have a formidable arsenal of millions of one gram Heroin packets. What has been sent to us, has been attractively repackaged and ready to be sent back to sender. At any point of time these packs can be sent by the same drones that brought them, or stuffed in the same containers that brought them, and sent to their ports. The message will go loud and clear – ‘Do Not Mess with Us.’

The author Dr G Shreekumar Menon, IRS (Rtd) Ph. D (Narcotics), is

  • Former Director General National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics, and Multi-Disciplinary School of Economic Intelligence India
  • Fellow, James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies, USA.
  • Fellow, Centre for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia, USA 
  • Public Administration, Maxwell School of Public Administration, Syracuse University, U.S.A.
  • AOTS Scholar, Japan

Dr G Shreekumar Menon can be contacted at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.