In one of its major hauls, the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai Customs seized 50kg party drug methaqualone worth Rs. 7.5 crore on Thursday midnight before the same could be smuggled to London.
The drug was booked through air courier and was kept in a godown in a western suburb. It was to be transported to the airport before which the AIU batch headed by deputy commissioner of Customs Sameer Wankhede seized the same.
Customs officials said they found food packets in the godown during the raid. “In 50 packets of salt, rice, tea and upma, we found white crystalline powder,” a Customs official said, requesting anonymity. On chemical analysis, the powder turned out to be methaqualone, he added.
Officials said foodstuff was removed from the 50 packets and replaced by the drug. The remaining packets had genuine foodstuffs, along with which the syndicate had planned to smuggle the drug on Friday. Customs officials said they had got information about the syndicate and had launched a massive search for them.
This is the fifth major seizure of methaqualone in the last five months. Earlier, the Customs had seized the drug while being smuggled to Malaysia and London.
Officials said the increasing demand for the drug abroad was pushing its smuggling. “The drug is cheaper as compared to cocaine and hence has huge demand abroad,” an official said.
The official said the drug can easily be manufactured locally in small factories and the profit margin is huge. “While the local cost of the drug per kilogram is around Rs. 50,000, it fetches Rs. 15 lakh per kg abroad,” the official said.