In what is one of the largest drug hauls in the state in recent times, the Ghatkopar unit of the Mumbai crime branch’s anti-narcotics cell arrested a man after finding 10.2 kilograms of the drug mephedrone worth Rs 2.04 crore in his car in Chembur on Monday.
By comparison, the combined value of 11 different drugs, including mephedrone, seized by the anti-narcotics cell in all of 2016 was just Rs1.86 crore. Mephedrone accounted for Rs 65.86 lakh of this. Also known as MD, M-CAT, White Magic and Meow Meow, mephedrone is a synthetic stimulant drug that is swallowed, snorted or injected. It produces similar effects to MDMA, amphetamines and cocaine.
Acting on a tip-off, a team from the Ghatkopar anti-narcotics unit laid a trap in Chedda Nagar, near the service road bus stop in Chembur, around 4 pm.
Around 6pm, the team led by police inspector Santosh Bhalekar approached the suspect, 34-year-old Pravin Dilip Waghela, who had arrived there in a Honda Civic and seemed to be waiting for someone. The police searched his car and arrested him upon finding the stash of mephedrone in a bag.
A resident of Kherwadi in Bandra (East), Waghela told the police he had an HSC degree and used to work for a pharma company. The police have seized his mobile phone and are checking whether the company he worked for has anything to do with the drugs.
“We strongly suspect the drug was manufactured in India. We are trying to find out where it was made,” said a senior crime branch official, who did not wish to be named.
An official working on the case said they had not yet ruled out the possibility of underworld involvement. The official added that Waghela did not appear to be a drug addict and that the police were looking into whether he had a prior criminal record.
Waghela was booked under sections 8C and 22 of the The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985. He was produced before a magistrate court and remanded in police custody until January 16.