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Coke trail leads to crime lane

After exposing the sordid reality behind the lives of the rich and powerful, the cocaine trail has led to the underworld.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2006 03:16 IST

After exposing the sordid reality behind the lives of the rich and powerful, the cocaine trail has led to the underworld.

The Mumbai underworld thrives on drug money and the who’s who of crime have their hands in the trafficking pie.

The 200 kg of high-grade cocaine that was seized on Saturday — when the country was watching secrets come tumbling out of the Mahajans's closet — has been traced to the Mumbai underworld. Top sources in central intelligence enforcement agencies said the drugs confiscated by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and the customs department was ordered either by the Dawood Ibrahim gang or its rivals the Chotta Rajan company. The seizure, valued at Rs 90 crore in the Indian market but Rs 500 crore in the international grey market, was the largest haul in the whole of South Asia.

The drugs were meant for sale in Mumbai and other Indian metros, where cocktail circuits provide a fast-growing clientele.

The original importer, APM trading Company, which is now under the scanner of the NCB, and has been importing teak wood logs from Ecuador for last few years on a regular basis, was "used" by a third party---the underworld---in order to receive the cocaine consignment.

The underworld organised the shipment of the consignment from Ecuador---a hub of both cocaine and teak wood production---with the help of the well-connected South American drug cartel.

The authorities also rule out the involvement of the Ecuadorean shipping line, Maersk.

The consignment set sail on April 18 from Ecuador's Gujaquil and then reached Balboa in the Panama Canal on Pacific coast. From there it sailed on April 25 to reach Hong Kong on May 19. On May 23, it was loaded on SL Voyager and reached Mumbai on Saturday.

The "sheer magnitude of the entire operation, that involved an expenditure of at least Rs 40-50 crore and required the probable use of a dummy, indicates the Mumbai's underworld hand", said a high-ranking officer on conditions of anonymity.

First Published: Jun 06, 2006 03:16 IST