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Vietnamese held for drug smuggling

mumbai Updated: Nov 22, 2011 01:51 IST
Manish Pachouly
Manish Pachouly
Hindustan Times
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A Vietnamese national was arrested on Saturday, in connection with the recent seizure of 125 kg of party drug ingredient ephedrine, worth Rs25 crore.

Chug, alias Tony, was apprehended at the city's domestic airport, on his arrival from Goa, late on Friday. He was arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence the next day.

The drug ingredient was seized at the Nhava Sheva port on Thursday, from where it was meant to be smuggled to Laos, south-east Asia.

It was concealed in sofa sets, which had been stitched back to their original form.

Officials said that Tony had booked the drug ingredient for Laos and had arranged for it to be concealed. The consignment had been officially declared as furniture.

A DRI official, requesting anonymity, said that the accused had obtained the drug ingredient from his Indian contact - a Mumbai resident - and had paid him. The Indian contact is on the run.

Officials said that Tony had an open ticket, and the agency suspects that he was planning to fly out of the country on Sunday.

He has been booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

The DRI will now question Tony to find out if there are any more locals in his syndicate. "We will also probe him to find out how long he has been involved in drug trade for, and on how many occasions he has smuggled drugs out of the country," the official said.

The DRI will also trace the person who was going to receive the consignment in Laos. "We can then find out if the syndicate operates beyond Laos and whether ephedrine would have travelled further from Laos," the official said.

The agency is looking for the carpenters who helped open the sofa sets to conceal the drug ingredient, and then stitch them back.

Ephedrine, a stimulant, is a prerequisite for manufacturing methamphetamine, which is commonly called 'speed,' in rave party circuits. Drug addicts sometimes consume ephedrine in its original form as well.