The Thane police on Saturday added former Bollywood actress Mamta Kulkarni to the list of suspects in the Rs2,000-crore ephedrine haul case. Following the arrest of two peddlers, the police had seized 18,000kg of the drug from a factory owned by Avon Lifesciences in Solapur on April 16. The police are now in the process of having a red corner notice (international arrest warrant) issued against Kulkarni.
A Thane police officer, who did not wish to be named, said, “The arrested accused have revealed that Mamta Kulkarni is one of the directors of Avon Lifesciences and that she owns shares in it worth Rs 11 lakh. Vicky Goswani had bailed out the company after it suffered losses, and Mamta was made a director on his insistence.”
Thane police commissioner Parambir Singh said, “We are in the process of getting a red corner notice against Mamta. There is already one out for Vicky Goswami. We came to know about meetings held in January and April, attended by Mamta and Vicky, at which drug smuggling was discussed.”
He added, “Colombian and Moroccan drug dealers are also involved in the racket. The US Drug Enforcement Administration has shared pictures of Dr Abdulla, an international drug dealer from Kenya, who played a major role in the racket and is an important partner of Vicky Goswami.”
Bharat Shelkhe, additonal commissioner of police, Thane crime branch, said, “We have also learnt that Dr Abdulla was about to set up a company in Mombasa in Kenya where drugs from Solapur would be processed before being sold on the international market.”
Information about the meetings came from the statements of two people – one an accused and the other a police witness. The accused has been identified as Jay Mukhi, a resident of Mumbai, whose identity had been kept secret up to now so as not to hamper the investigation.
According to the two statements, which were recorded before a magistrate to give them more weight, a meeting in Tanzania on January 1, 2016 was attended by Mamta, Vicky, Dr Abdulla and Manoj Jain, director of Avon Lifesciences, Jay Mukhi and a few others. A second meeting, at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in April, was also attended by Goswami, Manoj Jain, Jay Mukhi, Dr Abdulla and others. At these meetings, they allegedly discussed how to transport the drugs and deal with the authorities.
Soon after the January meeting, a consignment comprising 100 kg of ephedrine was sent from Avon Lifesciences in Solpaur to Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai. From there it was sent to Kenya on a cargo plane. The Thane anti-narcotics cell is examining the route to find out about others involved in transporting the drug. According to the police, after the drug was sent to Tanzania and Kenya, Vicky sent crores of rupees to Manoj Jain.
Thane police chief Singh added, “They also discussed the profit margin on ephedrine in the international market and who would get what. It was decided that 33% would go to Vicky Goswami and Dr Abdulla, 33% to Manoj Jain and Punit Shringi, and 33% to Kishoresingh Rathod and Jay Mukhi. They also decided to sell the drug at Rs 50,000 a kg”.