Sung Yuan Hsuan, the Chinese national arrested for trying to smuggle 300 kg of the popular date rape drug ketamine on Sunday, was arrested in Bangalore in December 2009 for a similar offence.
Hsuan, who was trying to smuggle a ketamine consignment worth Rs 3 crore to Taiwan by hiding it in 12 pomegranate boxes, was arrested by Customs authorities at Mumbai airport eight months after he was arrested by the Bangalore airport Customs.
Customs officials believe the Centre’s failure to bring the popular party and date rape drug under the stringent Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act has helped smugglers like Hsuan.
Customs officials said ketamine smuggling could be controlled if it is brought under the stringent NDPS Act. Ketamine smugglers are booked under the Customs Act. “Here, they get bail within a few days, which is an advantage,” an officer said.
Under the NDPS Act, the offender is not granted bail and the punishment for committing the offence for the first time is a minimum 10 years.
The Mumbai Airport Customs had in 2006 sent a proposal to the Centre to include ketamine under the NDPS Act. “The proposal is just gathering dust. There has been no movement in this direction,” a senior Customs official said.
The airport Customs in Bangalore had arrested Hsuan in December last year but released him on bail a few days later.
Hsuan jumped bail and escaped the country.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) issued a red corner notice against him. Hsuan, however, returned to India and attempted to smuggle ketamine again because the previous action taken against him was not a strong deterrent, officers said.
Hsuan reached Mumbai on August 2 and stayed at an Andheri hotel. After making arrangements to smuggle the contraband, he booked his ticket for Hong Kong.
The Air Intelligence unit of Mumbai Customs, which had arrested Hsuan on Sunday, handed him over to the DRI, which will take him to Bangalore for further investigation in the December 2009 case.
Hsuan will be in judicial custody there until September 13. He will be brought back to Mumbai and produced in court on September 13, sources in the Customs said.
The DRI is also investigating how Hsuan was not caught while entering the country despite a red corner notice against him. Immigration authorities caught him only when he was trying to fly out to Hong Kong.