13 PIA employees arrested in connection to heroin smuggling

LAHORE: At least 13 employees of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have been arrested in connection with a failed bid of smuggling 6kg of heroin to Dubai from Lahore.

“Some PIA employees have been taken into custody in connection with the heroin smuggling to Dubai. If found guilty, strict action will be taken against them,” PIA spokesman Daniyal Gilani told journalists on Sunday.

A PIA flight was to leave for Dubai on Saturday from the Allama Iqbal International Airport when the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) received information that a huge quantity of heroin was being smuggled through the flight.

ANF personnel searched the plane and recovered 6kg of heroin (worth over Rs 60 million) from its toilet. Official sources said the ANF suspected that such a huge quantity of heroin could not be concealed in the plane without the connivance of a number of employees.

“A joint team of PIA Vigilance, ANF and Customs has taken at least 13 employees of the national flag carrier into custody on suspicion of being part of a gang involved in the heroin smuggling. More PIA employees are also likely to be arrested soon in the light of the investigation,” an official told journalists.

He said that one of the suspected passengers was also offloaded from the flight before it was allowed to leave for its destination three hours behind scheduled departure. The authorities concerned are alarmed at the incident and may introduce some special measures to stop this heinous trend. Recently, similar incidents were also reported from Isamabad and Karachi airports.

Over the past few years, there has been a rise in the number of cases in which PIA employees have been caught smuggling different items, including drugs, cigarettes, mobile phones, illegal passports and laundered money. In some cases, the PIA employees were caught at Pakistani airports while in some others they were intercepted and arrested in European countries.

The PIA has declared a zero-tolerance policy in such cases and fired those employees who were found involved in such crimes in the past.

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