The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized over 1,000 kg of party drug, ketamine hydrochloride, worth around Rs3.6 crore on Wednesday. The DRI has arrested four persons, including Abhijeet Konduskar, 29, whose family runs the travel company, Konduskar Travels. On Thursday, the four were remanded to judicial custody till June 16.
This is the first seizure after ketamine was brought under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in February.
Konduskar has the licence to manufacture ketamine, which has legitimate use in India, but the DRI has found that his firm, the Sangli-based Kamud Drugs Pvt Ltd, was diverting the drug for illegal use. The drug can be sold only to licensed dealers.
The DRI’s remand application states it took action after getting information that a 200kg consignment was coming to Mumbai on Wednesday in a Tata Sumo. The drug was to be delivered to a Jayanthilal Kothari, 43, at a building in Andheri, and a man named Sandeep Ahire, 25, would be travelling with the consignment.
The DRI officials caught Kothari and Ahire while the ketamine was being moved from the vehicle to the building. Twenty cartons, valued at Rs70 lakh, were seized. Kothari did not have the licence to purchase ketamine. The consignment was meant for a UK-based man named Sean, the application said.
Subsequently, the DRI conducted searches at the office and factory premises of Kamud Drugs in Belapur and Sangli respectively. At the factory, the officials seized 32 drums of ketamine from a shed, which contained over 800kg of the drug, worth Rs2.89 crore.
Following the seizure, the DRI team arrested Konduskar and Nilesh Mehta, 33, general manager of Kamud Drugs.
Officials allege that ketamine was being sold in the illegal market on the instructions of Konduskar.
In his statement, Mehta said the firm was illegally selling ketamine to people in India and abroad. “The payment was received in advance in cash from a Bandra-based hawala [illegal route of transferring money] operator,” Mehta told the DRI.
Officials have alleged that Konduskar has earlier received sales proceeds of Rs1.17 crore for illegally selling 500kg ketamine.
All the four accused were arrested under the NDPS Act. Before February, for ketamine seizures, cases were registered under the Customs Act, which allowed the accused to get bail in a few days. “Now that the drug is under the NDPS Act, there is no provision for bail,” a DRI official said, requesting anonymity.
Advocate Dinesh Tiwari, who represents Konduskar, said it was a false case. Advocate Ravi Hirani who appeared for Kothari, said his client was innocent as the firm had told him they were legal manufacturers of ketamine. “Hence, he procured ketamine from them,” Hirani said.
Advocate Anand Sachwani, who appeared for Mehta and Ahire, said his clients were just employees of the firm and following instructions. “They did not have any knowledge on whether ketamine was being given officially or unofficially,” he said.