For the first time in Delhi and its surroundings, a 'meth lab', or a unit manufacturing the banned psycho-stimulant methamphetamine, was unearthed and raided on Wednesday by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
Investigations showed it had been set up by an international drug cartel with operations in Asia, Europe and Canada. Six people from Hong Kong, two of them qualified pharmacists, and a non resident Indian based in Canada have been arrested. The NCB seized 550 kg of ephedrine, a controlled substance, huge quantities of other chemicals and all the laboratory equipment used to process ephedrine into methamphetamine. NCB officers said the haul could be worth crores.
"This is evidence that international drug cartels are active in India and are setting up meth labs here," said A Shankar Rao, NCB's Delhi zone director.
The NCB had been on the trail since the seizure of 500 kg of ephedrine from a courier company in south Delhi last month. The substance was to be shipped to Canada. On Tuesday, the agency made a breakthrough following the arrest of the six Hong Kong residents staying in a Karol Bagh hotel.
During interrogation, the foreigners gave away the facts about the meth lab at Kherki Daula village. They said they had taken the factory - which had earlier been closed down -- on lease since October 1.
'Meth labs' are well known to policemen in the United States and other western countries, who have been struggling to shut them down. Apart from the dangerous products manufactured, they are also hazardous for the environment.