It does not take much to set up an illegal drug laboratory. A few funnels, some heating mantles, thermometers, assorted glass beakers and cylinders. All this can be bundled into a moving truck and the lab gets going.
Officers of the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) stumbled upon this new concept when they seized contraband narcotics estimated to be worth Rs 300 crore from the Kolkata Port area on Wednesday. They also seized the flasks, beakers and other paraphernalia that made up the mobile drug laboratory.
“All this was seized from a container in the godown of Balmer Lawrie & Company Limited on Netaji Subhash Road,” said NCB zonal director Sandeep Mittal. “The concept of mobile laboratories is new in India though it has been reported in the United States before,” he added.
Sources in the NCB also said it was just as easy to manufacture synthetic drugs as it was to assemble a mobile laboratory. “Amphetamine tablets can be made in a running truck. It even helps them distribute the drugs to peddlers,” a senior officer said.
Sources said the consignment that was seized in Kolkata on Wednesday was meant for a Gurgaon methamphetamine lab. But last month’s raid on the factory spoiled the party. “The criminals were looking for an opportunity to take it out and thought these mobile labs would do that job,” the officer said.
The consignment was lifted from Colombia, taken to Hong Kong and then brought to Kolkata from Huang Pu Port in China. The raid was carried out by the NCB officials after a tip-off from the FBI. Two persons — Vincent Chang, a Chinese national with an Indian passport, and Michel Suanpu from Manipur — were arrested on Wednesday. The two were produced before the additional district judge, who remanded them in police custody for 14 days.