194-kg heroin haul: Gujarat anti-terror squad joins STF to probe kingpin Sandhu’s role
The Gujarat anti-terror squad (ATS) on Tuesday joined the Punjab Police’s anti-drug special task force (STF) to probe the role of Simranjit Singh Sandhu in the racket allegedly involved in the smuggling of heroin to Punjab from Pakistan via sea route.
Currently in the custody of Interpol in Italy, Sandhu, an Amritsar resident, has emerged as the prime suspect in the case involving the recovery of 194-kg heroin and chemicals by STF from a house in the city’s Sultanwind area on Friday last week. With the recovery, the STF claimed to have unearthed a heroin supply racket with overseas connections.
The ATS team on Tuesday questioned the six accused arrested in the case, it is learnt.
Sandhu was arrested recently in Italy on the basis of a red corner notice (RCN) issued by the Interpol on request of the Gujarat ATS. Sandhu was wanted in a drug-trafficking case in which 300-kg heroin was smuggled from Pakistan to Mandvi in Gujarat.
“The Gujarat ATS has some documents which will help us further investigate the matter. We will also share with them evidence against Sandhu,” said STF inspector general of police (IGP) Kaushtubh Sharma.
Officials claim that the 194kg contraband seized in Amritsar was part of a 300-kg consignment brought from Pakistan via Gujarat in 2018. The STF has said it was Sandhu who ordered the contraband from Gujarat. Once his name cropped up in the Gujarat case, Sandhu fled to Australia through Nepal and then flew to Italy where he was arrested by the Interpol, say officials.
After 5-kg heroin was recovered by the Gujarat ATS in Jam Salaya in August 2018, two men arrested in the case—Rafiq Sumra and Abdul Aziz Bhagad —told ATS that the seizure was part of the 300-kg consignment smuggled for Sandhu in Punjab and transported via Rajasthan in trucks carrying cumin, said an STF official.
“One of the accused and Sandhu’s close aide Ankush Kapoor has told the ATS that he was running the racket on the instructions of the kingpin,” said an official.
Sources say Sandhu was placing heroin orders from Pakistan-based smugglers through his links in Dubai. The proceeds of the smuggling were used for terror funding, said an official.
IGP Sharma said, “The ATS has initiated the process of deporting Sandhu from Italy. Things will be cleared once he is brought to India. We will bring him here on production warrant once he is deported.”
3.25-kg heroin, chemicals seized
After the interrogation of Ankush, a team of STF on Tuesday recovered over 3kg heroin from his house in Amritsar.
They also recovered some chemicals used for “doubling or adulterating” the heroin at Ankush’s instance.
“We also recovered 500 ml hydrochloric acid, 2.5 litre avarice acid (solution ammonia), 500 gm powder (activated charcoal) from his room,” said STF assistant inspector general (AIG) Rashpal Singh.