NIA Trichy special camp search: Inmates linked to drugs, arms trade said to be former LTTE operatives

South First learns that mobiles seized from inmates contain evidence of cartel's business transactions, and reveal its modus operandi.

ByShilpa Nair

Published Jul 21, 2022 | 1:29 PMUpdatedAug 16, 2022 | 12:22 PM

NIA raid Trichy special camp

At least 14 inmates of the special camp housing foreign nationals in Trichy that was searched by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday, 20 July, are suspected to be involved in drug and arms trafficking, a senior official of the agency said.

The Trichy camp, which houses mainly Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, was one of the 22 places the NIA carried out searches in connection with its investigation into narcotics and arms trafficking to India and Sri Lanka.

The senior NIA official told South First that, of the 14 inmates allegedly involved in the drugs and arms trade, some “were former Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) operatives”.

The NIA has officially stated that it recovered digital devices and various incriminating documents during the searches.

“Several mobile phones were seized from the inmates which contain evidence of the modus operandi of the drug trade, details of their business transactions — which run into hundreds of crores — and other sensitive information,” a top NIA source said.

Importantly, the official also claimed that the accused in the case were “living a life of luxury” inside the special camp — with access to mobile phones and WiFi, and even holding grand birthday celebrations.

Sensitive search operation

The raids, which began around 5 am in the morning, concluded late in the evening.

Given the sensitive nature of the case, the search operation was carried out with outmost secrecy and even the state government was only informed about it at the last minute.

Central Armed Paramilitary Forces were called in to provide protection outside the special camp, which is a high-security area.

Trichy District Collector M Pradeep Kumar also visited the special camp shortly after the raids began.

In addition to the Trichy special camp, searches were carried out at other locations in Chennai, Chengalpattu and Tiruppur districts.

Background of the case

The search operations conducted on 20 July were a fallout of the Vizhinjam arms case registered by the NIA in May 2021.

The Coast Guard in Kerala had intercepted a Sri Lankan fishing vessel in the Arabian Sea on 18 March, 2021, and recovered 300 kg of heroin, AK-47 rifles and one thousand rounds of 9mm ammunition. Though the case was initially registered by the Vizhinjam police station in Thiruvananthapuram, it was later transferred to the NIA.

Based on the confession of one of the accused in the case, the NIA identified new drug cartels that were operating across Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.

A separate case was registered by the NIA on 8 July, 2022, in New Delhi to look into the functioning of these cartels, especially the illegal activities of a Sri Lankan drug mafia being operated by C Gunashekharan and Pushparajah in association with Haji Salim, a drug and arms supplier based in Pakistan.

“These drug and arms traffickers have been operating in India and Sri Lanka and working for the revival of LTTE and to further its violent activities,” read the NIA statement on the recent searches.

The case has been registered under section 120 (B) of IPC, sections 18, 20, 38, 39 and 40 of UA(P)Act, besides section 8(c) read with sections 21 (c), 23 (c), 24, 27A, 28 and 29 of NDPS Act.