55-yr-old chemist held, 705 kg of MD seized
A 55-year-old man with a master degree in organic chemistry was among five people arrested on Wednesday after police seized 705kg of mephedrone worth over R1,400 crore in one of the biggest drug busts in recent years.
The anti-narcotics cell (ANC) said the suspects manufactured and supplied the synthetic drug, which goes by the street name meow meow, as per orders received from drug suppliers.
Deputy commissioner of police Datta Nalawade of the ANC said they raided a commercial tenement in Nalasopara based on information received from some persons arrested in March this year for possession of small quantities of mephedrone. The synthetic stimulant is banned under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.
“After arresting three members of the syndicate – Samsullah Obaidullah Khan, 38, a peddler, Ayub Izhar Abmed Shaihk, 37, a supplier and Reshma Chandan, 49, a distributor, we finally managed to reach the contraband manufacturer, who used to distribute the contraband from the commercial tenement that he had purchased at Nalasopara,” Nalawade said.
“We have seized 701 kg worth around R1,403 crore from the commercial tenement,” he added.
The drug trail started on March 29 this year when the Worli unit of the ANC arrested a peddler from Govandi area with 250 grams of mephedrone. The ANC unit arrested a drug supplier, also from Govandi, after his name came out in interrogation of the peddler. The police seized about 2.8 kilograms of the contraband from the supplier.
Further investigation revealed involvement of two more persons, a man and a woman, as distributors in the eastern suburbs. Both of them were arrested on July 27.
“We questioned the third and the fourth accused in detail and they revealed the name of the prime source of the contraband material – a masters graduate in organic chemistry who used to manufacture and supply the drug as per demands of the distributors,” said Nalawade. “After two days’ field work, we arrested him on August 3 and found out that he bought a commercial tenement in Nalasopara where he had stored the contraband,” said Nalawade.
He added that the 55-year-old man, who lives in Nalasopara with his wife and two children, used to manufacture the synthetic drug at Nashik and bring the entire consignment in tempo to Nalasopara. The police officer said he used to first collect money from the distributors and then used to deliver the consignments to them at some pre-decided locations in and around the city a few hours later, with a minimum order of 25 kilograms.
Another police officer said the Nalasopara resident was involved in manufacturing the stimulant since 2019 and had already brought in and sold in the city two consignments of 300 kg each. The second officer said the main accused used to freelance for chemical industries, mainly pharmaceuticals, as a consultant and helped them develop new products.
The fifth accused has also studied organic chemistry few years ago and had registered his own company to make medicine. He had taken permissions from some departments and a few were still pending like that from the environment department.
Several chemicals’ names, including mephedrone, were mentioned on his company website due to which people used to call him asking to manufacture the drug for them, added ANC official. He used to take orders from drug distributors using apps like WhatsApp, Signal and Telegram.
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