Nagaland, Oct 5: Nagaland police made the state’s single largest seizure of smuggled gold on Sunday estimated to be worth Rs.22.8 crore, additional director general of police (law & order) Sandeep M Tamgadge said.

The official told the media that police personnel who were manning the interstate narcotics checkpoint at Khuzama, along the Kohima-Imphal National Highway, made the finding after intercepting an SUV bearing registration number MN01AS-1325. Upon a thorough search of the suspected SUV, Nagaland police recovered smuggled gold weighing 48.14 kilograms (approx) worth ₹22,78,46,620.

As per the police source, the gold, in bars, were found hidden under the cover of the gear lever of the vehicle. The consignment and the vehicle were seized and two persons – Saurabh Singh (35) and Pawan Kumar (45), both residents of Uttar Pradesh, have been detained for further questioning to initiate appropriate legal action.

Besides the smuggled gold, the state police also confiscated 552 grams of illegal contraband suspected to be heroin and about 12 Kg opium at the same checkpoint, while another 532 grams of suspected heroin were seized from another location on the highway within the last 48 hours.

Seven persons have been taken into custody in connection with the cases, police said. The total value of the seized illegal drugs is estimated to be worth over ₹4 crores in the international market.

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In the quest of controlling the menace of drugs and narcotics under psychotropic substances along with the rest of the country, Nagaland police is also equally committed to controlling this menace,” Tamgadge said. He stated that the state police has increased its efforts towards this so as to make the highway from Manipur linking Assam and Nagaland free of all kinds of illegal activities.

Although the cops did not divulge on the destination of the seized goods, PRO Nagaland police headquarters Manoj Kumar said investigation on said cases will be taken up in multiple states as the contraband was intercepted in transit.

According to narcotics officials, Nagaland is used as a prime conduit route by drug traffickers as the state is located in close proximity with the Golden Triangle of the drug world, especially with it sharing borders with Myanmar. Conventionally, the Golden Triangle is a region between the borders of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand.

An official, who did not wish to be named, mentioned that while the Government of India looking to boost foreign trade by building economic corridors in the northeast region with neighbouring South-East Asian nations through the Act East Policy, there is an uneasiness that this could also open ways for illicit drugs to easily ride the new access routes of greater connectivity.