Passenger Profiling leads to Heroin and Indian Currency

DC MIshra

Dinesh Chandra Misra was born at Lucknow (U.P.). He passed the Intermediate exam from U.P. Board in 1970.Thereafter, due to transfer of his father from Lucknow to Bikaner Rly Div, Dinesh completed B.Sc. & M.A. (Economics) at Dungar College, Bikaner, affiliated to University of Rajasthan. Dinesh played Hockey at the state level and indulged in many outdoor activities to keep himself fit.

Subsequently, Dinesh joined Customs & Central Excise as Inspector in 1976 at Jodhpur. During his in-service period Dinesh served at Delhi Airport, NCB, CBN, Municipal Corporation, Delhi (on deputation), CEIB and lastly again at IGI Airport, Delhi from where he superannuated in 2014 as Addl. Commissioner.

Dinesh is a regular blood donor at Armed Forces Transfusion Clinic at Delhi Cantt and Red Cross, Delhi.Post retirement Dinesh has been keeping himself fit with regular morning walk and Pranayam.

Dinesh is a keen observer of current events. Reading newspapers and following sports events is a regular menu on his routine.Dinesh represented the Dept in Hockey in North Zone and All India Revenue sports competitions.He has been blessed with two sons. Post retirement Dinesh lives at New Delhi with his wife Madhu who is an expert cook of Veg dishes.


During late 80s, we at NCB (Narcotics Control Bureau ) had made a good number of heroin seizures at IGI Airport, New Delhi, by profiling passengers flying to drug-sensitive destinations in African countries via European countries. The Royal Dutch Airlines KLM giving connections to Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, etc. flying from Delhi to Amsterdam used to be our favorite targets

On the night intervening 12/13-10 1988, one Dutch lady passenger-Ms.Sumter Margo Nita, traveling in business class of KLM flight KL-832(departure at 02:10 hrs.) was selected by us for examination. She was among the last few passengers to report at the Customs counter. She was not at ease and was looking to skip her baggage examination saying that she would miss her flight, very reluctantly she got only her checked-in suitcase examined which did not contain anything objectionable. My colleague from NCB was not allowed by her to get her handbag examined. He had not worked at the airport earlier so I stepped in and told that lady firmly that if she wanted to travel, she had to get her handbag examined and that it wouldn't take more than 2 minutes. 

IGI Delhi - courtsey Google iamges 

She had to obey the rules, so finally I started to examine her handbag, which contained her clothes and personal effect items. When I reached the bottom of her handbag, two skirts of Jean cloth were found kept one over another. When I tried to take those skirts out she held my hand inside her handbag and whispered: "Officer don't take out those skirts " for which she offered any money desired by me. I smiled as i realized that my instincts were correct. I calmly told her that I am doing my job and she has to comply, soon i discovered that within those 2 skirts, there were 14 small polythene bags each containing 200gms. of white Heroin, weighing 2.800 kgs in total, the stash was recovered & seized.

After drawing panchnama & doing other post-seizure formalities at the airport, the lady passenger was brought to our NCB office at about 05:00 hrs., located in ITDC Hotel Ranjit, near Turkman gate. On being enquired about the person who gave her the heroin seized from her, she told the name of one Nigerian staying in a hotel in Paharganj, New Delhi. 

Another team of our NCB officers rushed to that hotel, where indeed that Nigerian was staying. Nothing objectionable could be recovered from him there but the team brought him to our office.

During the initial interrogation, The Nigerian admitted knowing the lady Margo Nita but refused to have given any heroin. Mr.Devendra Dutt, Dy. Director, NCB (Delhi Zonal Unit), was contacted by us via telephone at his residence. He was briefed about the seizure, He too reached our office at about 08:00 hrs.

We felt that Ms.Nita was not telling us everything and may be misleading us. On being pressed hard by us as to why was she not telling us about the real person who gave her the heroin, she finally named one Trideep Banerjee of Laxmi Nagar Delhi. She also gave us his telephone number. 
The developments were discussed by us with Mr.Dutt & a plan was made spontaneously. We told Ms.Nita that if she wanted to be free she had to help us in nabbing Trideep Banerjee.  She agreed as was left with no choice. 

As planned, Ms.Nita got checked-in by us in a room at the ITDC Hotel Janpath, New Delhi at about 09:00 hrs. A controlled (Tapped) telephone call was made by Margo Nita from her hotel room to Trideep Banerjee. The conversation went something like this -

Margo: Hi Trideep, I came back from Airport last night as I was not feeling well enough to travel. 
Trideep: Oh, how are you now and from where you are calling?
Margo: Now feeling better. I am in room No.221 of Hotel Janpath and would fly back to my country tonight.
Trideep: Please let me know as what can I do for you?
Margo: I have some money with me which I don't want to carry with me, so can you bring some stuff for me in exchange for that money?
Trideep: Sure, sure. I would be reaching the hotel in an hour with the stuff.
Margo: Thanks dear, I would wait for you and the stuff.

Accordingly, we positioned ourselves in the parking area and lobby of the hotel. One of our officers hid inside the toilet of Margo Nita's room to catch Trideep red-handed.
At about 10:30 hrs. one man aged about 30-35 yrs was noted by us entering the hotel with a boy aged 4-5yrs standing behind the handle of a scooter. The boy was wearing a school uniform & carrying school bag on his back. The man after parking his scooter in the hotel parking area entered the lobby. He made the boy sit in the lobby and entered the elevator. 

The man came out of the elevator at 2nd floor & started moving towards room No.221. We were keeping him under watch from all directions. Soon he knocked on the Margo Nita's room door and we knew this was our guy. Margo opened the door and let him in.

The NCB officer hiding inside the room's toilet heard the conversation between Margo and  Trideep. He came out of the toilet and caught Trideep red-handed as he was giving heroin to Ms. Margo Nita. 
Heroin weighing 400 gm was seized from there, which could be only because of Margo's cooperation and subsequent meticulous planning by us.

In the follow-up action, Trideep Banerjee's residence at Laxmi Nagar in the trans Delhi area was searched by us immediately the same day on 13-10-1988 in the afternoon. Heroin, weighing 11.150 kgs., along with Indian currency to the tune of 80.17 lacs, US$1700 & British pounds 785 in total were seized from the premises. 

Both Ms. Margo Nita and  Trideep Banerjee were arrested under the N.D.P.S. act 1985 and the Nigerian brought by us was allowed to go back to his hotel.

The operation received a commendation from the then Union Finance Minister & senior officials from the Central Board of Excise and Customs  and Narcotics Control Bureau 

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