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DRI busts international drug racket in Maharashtra, 3 held with contraband worth ₹40 crore

Arrested accused include an MBA graduate. The network uses well-educated people

mumbai Updated: Aug 05, 2018 00:42 IST
Pratik Salunke
Pratik Salunke
Hindustan Times
The DRI seized 253kg of ketamine and 12kg of methamphetamine.(HT)

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has busted an international drug cartel in which three people, including an MBA graduate, were arrested on Friday following seizure of drugs worth around ₹40 crore. Including the machines used to manufacture drugs, the worth of the seizure touched ₹50 crore.

The agency on Friday seized 253 kilograms of ketamine and 12 kilograms of methamphetamine, both party drugs. The agency arrested Jagdishan, Saju Kasim and N Prakash after raiding a factory and two godowns on the outskirts of the city. “The gang had rented a factory premises at Rasayani in Raigad district to manufacture the drugs and also rented two godowns at Kopar Khairane and Taloja to store it,” said a senior DRI officer. “The gang deployed people from Chennai in these factories to manufacture the drugs and then smuggle it out of the country.”

Crackdown on the drug cartel has been initiated at Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu with several more arrests likely to take place. In Mumbai, a few suspects are being questioned in this regard. The agency has termed the drug cartel as the “Malaysian gang” that has been involved “in smuggling tonnes of such drugs abroad in recent times.”

The officer added, “The masterminds in Malaysia are of Indian origin. These drugs are in demand in South Asia and Europe.”

The well-oiled network employed well-educated persons. “Jagdishan is an MBA graduate whose role was to handle the logistics and export. The two others were involved in transportation and handling payments,” said the officer.

The ketamine was manufactured in the plant at Rasayani and the finished product was being smuggled out in export cargo by falsely declaring it as laundry detergent powder.

Upon raiding the premises, the agency found the drugs concealed in small packets wrapped with multi-layer plastic rolls, which were inside high-density polyethylene (HDPE) bags.

The drugs were smuggled out of the countryby the syndicate by floating multiple companies with fictitious Import Export Code (IEC) numbers. The IEC is a unique 10-digit code issued to Indian companies for import and export. As per the rules, import or export in India cannot be done without IEC number.

“The syndicate managed to operate from the neighbouring districts of Mumbai without much knowledge of Hindi. The syndicate hired only Tamil-speaking people to manufacture, operate and smuggle,” said the officer.

What is Ketamine and Mehamphetamine?

Ketamine is a medication that is mainly used in anaesthesia and as an anti-depressant. It works as a hallucinogen and is banned in several European countries because of its misuse as a psychotropic drug. Due to its misuse, it is also covered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act. Methamphetamine’s prolonged use can be extremely dangerous. The drug is either manufactured in laboratories or imported into the country.

Recent case

In June this year, the DRI raided 14 residential and industrial places in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa and seized 308kg ketamine, 2,000kg of raw material, hashish, cocaine and opium worth nearly ₹35 crore. Twelve people, including four foreigners, were arrested. The probe revealed that the factory in Rasayani was the epicentre of the ketamine syndicate. The Goa-based racket was being run by two Britishers and a Vietnamese national. They used to convert the impure ketamine to its pure form and send back the final product to Mumbai, from where it was sent to the United Kingdom and Canada through courier shipments. They would conceal the ketamine in tea bags.

First Published: Aug 05, 2018 00:42 IST