The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) busted a major drug-manufacturing and smuggling racket spread across Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa, seized contraband worth Rs 35 crore and arrested three of its members, reports the Times of India.
The total value of drugs including ketamine seized in the Goa raid is in the range of Rs 4-5 crore, while the DRI estimates that the total value of drugs seized in all the raids across 3 States is in the range of Rs 35 to 40 crore, depending on the purity of the consignments seized.
The arrested persons have been identified as Rahul Shedge, a Bhandup resident, Anthony Paul, a New Panvel resident and Akshinder Sodhi from Jalandhar. The DRI are on the lookout for more suspects.
Acting on specific inputs, the DRI officials in Mumbai recently raided a flat in Jogeshwari, various other places in Goa, Baroda, Bhiwandi and a factory in Rasaini, Panvel.
Over 310 kg of ketamine, cocaine, hashish and opium — estimated to be worth Rs 35 crore in total — were recovered during these searches.
The racket is said to be highly professional with regard to manufacture of some drugs like ketamine, also known as a Date Rape drug and classified as a psychotropic substance under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
To avoid getting caught easily, they would only manufacture ketamine-intermediate (formed one stage before pure ketamine and not covered under the NDPS Act) before packing it off for distribution.
“This was to ensure that if the law enforcement agency catches them with ketamine-intermediate, they would not attract any action,” a source from the DRI said, requesting anonymity.
But ketamine-intermediate can be only used to manufacture ketamine and nothing else. This drug was meant to be exported to some African countries and Canada, the source added.
Further background checks revealed that Shedge was previously arrested by the DRI in 2009 with alprazolam (a sleep-inducing drug), and by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in 2012 in connection with a ketamine case.
The probe revealed that Shedge would manufacture ketamine at his factories in Rasaini on the instruction of his associate who also provided the raw material.
On June 6, Shedge delivered 30kg of ketamine-intermediate to Paul’s New Panvel residence through an employee. Paul, during the investigation, revealed that he and Shedge have a mutual friend who acts as an intermediary and collects money through angadias.
The other suspect, Akshinder Sodhi is said to be drug supplier with many clients in Mumbai. The DRI seized 140g of cocaine, 220g of crystallised ketamine and 33kg of powdered ketamine from his premises.
The DRI also suspects the involvement of two foreign nationals in this drug racket.
According to a Hindustan Times report, the ketamine manufacturing racket was run by a Chemistry topper and a UK national, and manufactured drugs were stored at hideouts in Jogeshwari, Panvel, Bhiwandi and Goa. The main accused, Rahul Shedge, a topper in chemistry, had been earlier arrested under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotrophic Substance (NDPS) Act in 2009 and 2012. Upon his release from jail, he continued the racket by manufacturing the contraband at Rasaini in Panvel under the banner of a chemical factory.
In Goa, the factory was owned and run by a top BJP functionary Vasudev Parab (Read Here) and several attempts were made to hush up the matter, opposition parties have claimed. Knowing the importance of the operation, the DRI did not even inform the local police or the local Anti Narcotics cell fearing a tip off. However, no arrests were made in the Goa raid, under pressure from local politicians, claimed a senior Congress leader, adding that great pressure was brought upon the raiding DRI team including calls from senior Delhi politiicans to let go the workers caught red-handed at the factory.
Opposition parties had to rush to the media and make several calls all over to ensure that the Goa raid was not hushed up and “settled”. It is only after media persons landed at the illegal factory at Pissurlem Industrial Estate, located 60 km from Panaji in Sattari taluka of North Goa district, that DRI officials began to act.
According to a report in local Goa newspaper Herald, the factory belongs to Vasudev Parab general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) North Goa. Vasudev Parab is one of the BJP’s oldest, most influential and senior-most workers in Goa.
The value of the raw ketamine seized in the Goa raid is approximately Rs 4-4.5 crore. Parab told Herald he had no knowledge of the ketamine stored in his factory. After interrogations, the DRI arrested 3 youth who were working as loaders in the factory while all the top shots were let off.
Sources said that following a specific tip-off, the DRI’s Mumbai zone unit raided a flat in Oberoi Splendor at Jogeshwari on Monday and seized 33 kgs of brown colour powder suspected to be ketamine. As the field testing kit indicated presence of ketamine in the papers, DRI officials arrested Akshinder Singh Sodhi, a native of Jalander who had taken the flat on rent and was allegedly supplying the drugs in Andheri and Oshiwara areas.
“His interrogations led to Shedge and Anthony Paul, a UK national, and Jai Vijay Industries in Rasaini where the contraband was manufactured. We then raided the factory,” said a source. Based on further information gathered during the investigation, the DRI than also raided a few places in Goa. (Read Here)
In all, the DRI seized 279 kg Ketamine, 140 grams of cocaine, 1.5 kg opium and 7.8 kg of hashish, totally approximately worth Rs 27 crore. Shedge and Paul have also been arrested.