Four people, including a British national involved in a huge haul of mephedrone hydrochloride seized from outskirts of Pune, may be part of a larger drug cartel that scouted for potential manufacturers in the state, Customs investigations revealed.
The drug seizure has again exposed the drug trade involving small time units in western Maharashtra. The Pune Customs team, on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, seized 159.10kg of Mephedrone Hydrocloride (a psychotropic substance under the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985) worth Rs25 crore from the premises of Samarth Laboratories, at Kurkumbh MIDC in Daund taluka.
Investigations revealed the mastermind is one Sundip Dunay; a British national, who had camped in Patna at his associate Bipin Kumar’s residence. While Kumar was present in Daund while monitoring the delivery of the consignment, the Customs raided the factory in which he was caught.
Authorities carried out a coordinated operation spread over Patna and Pune. “We waited for three days to find the right time to catch Kumar in the factory premises itself, because later he would have denied any link to the factory,” said a high-ranking officer, privy to the investigation. Simultaneously, a team picked up Dunay from Kumar’s residence in Patna.
“Dunay and Kumar scouted for potential manufacturers in the state and looked for new and small-time chemical factories. They had approached a chemical factory in Satara last year, but were unsuccessful,” said the officer. This June, they were successful in striking a deal with the laboratory based in Daund. “Kumar has a licence to deal in the supply of chemicals. He was providing the drug to Dunay. We are waiting for Dunay’s custody, after which the magnitude of the racket will be ascertained,” said the officer.
Two others arrested during the raid — Deshmukh and Surve — ran the laboratory. “Around 12kg of drugs were already delivered from the laboratory. Those who managed the laboratory denied knowledge about the end product. However, manufacturing a banned drug itself is a heinous crime,” said the officer.
Investigators are also probing if there is any common link between the Daund seizure with another huge seizure initiated last year at Onkar Industries located in Islampur near Sangli, which had led to the arrest of Ravindra Konduskar, owner of Konduskar Travels. “Kumar, during the probe, revealed he knew an accused in the Sangli case. We are probing further,” said the officer.