After seizing 18.5 tonnes of the drug ephedrine worth Rs 2,000 crore on Saturday, the Thane police’s anti-narcotics cell on Wednesday conducted more raids on firms said to have links to Avon Lifesciences Limited in Solapur, the target of Saturday’s raid.
The police believe Wednesday’s seizure exceeds Saturday’s but are yet to confirm the exact quantity seized. “We are yet to determine the exact quantity and panchnama is still going on,” said a police officer from the Thane commissionerate, adding such raids would continue.
A few weeks ago, a Nigerian national identified as Okhay Sipren Chinnas, 30, was arrested from Vartak Nagar with half a kilo of ephedrine, worth Rs 12.5 lakhs. Two days later, two Raigad residents were arrested by the Thane crime branch and anti-narcotics cell from the Shildaighar area for possession of two kilos of ephedrine, worth Rs 80 lakh.
They were identified as Sagar Powale, 28, and Mayur Sukhdare, 25, from Raigad district.
Amol Walzade, police inspector, anti-narcotics cell, said, “They told the police about Dhaneshwar Rajaram Swami, 28, a Solapur resident who has an MSc and deals in drugs. When we arrested him, he told us about a pharma company located at Chincholi MIDC, whose manager is also involved in this. We went to the pharma company (Avon) and arrested senior production manager Rajendra Jagdamba Prasad Dimbri, 48, a Solapur resident.”
A police officer from the Thane commissionerate said, “As we were investigating the case, we came to know about more ephedrine stocks with other companies in the area. The amount we have seized (on Wednesday) is more than what was seized on Saturday.”
He added, “It is quite shocking that the director of the firm was not aware of the illegal practices as they had been going on for months.” Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh said, “It’s too early to comment on this seizure. Our officers are working with excise and FDA officers to analyse the seized materials properly.”
The Gujarat ATS and crime branch have also been involved in the investigation, having seized ephedrine worth Rs 270 crore recently.
The three main suspects in the racket have been identified as Punit Shringi, who was allegedly responsible for transporting drugs outside India, Kishoresingh Bhavsingh Rathod, the son of a former MLA from Gujarat, and Jay Mukhi.
All three are absconding. The Thane police have sent a look-out notice to airport across India to trace them.