Europe-based outfit had bankrolled Hubli mephedrone factory.
Mumbai: A probe by the Mumbai crime branch’s anti-narcotic cell (ANC) led by DCP Shivdeep Lande, which recently busted a Hubli-based mephedrone-manufacturing factory catering to the city’s clientele, found that it was set up by a Europe-based trafficking syndicate, which sent 28 kg of the banned narcotic produced there, abroad.
The narcotic, in its white crystal form, is suspected to have been ‘exported’ to dealers in Europe and West Asia, concealed in 10 kg small-grain rice bags, via air, in the last six months.
The ‘exported’ contraband was worth Rs 56 crore in the grey market. The police suspects there could be other factories across the state and have begun a search for them, said crime branch sources.
The police learned that the syndicate was ‘exporting’ mephedrone abroad after it arrested one of its alleged Mumbai-based suppliers, Firdaus Razzaq.
It was Razzaq who allegedly sent mephedrone crystals abroad, said a crime branch source. The police probe suspects the crystals were mixed with a type of small-grain rice, “which look identical”, said the source.
“Around 45 kg of mephedrone was produced in the Hubli-based factory, out of which 28 kg was sent abroad to Europe and West Asia. Once abroad, they were sold at around Rs 10,000 per gram, which was five times the price in Mumbai’s grey markets at Rs 2,000,” said the source.
The police netted Razzaq after nabbing another alleged syndicate operative, Pravin Waghela. Waghela was arrested on January 9 by an ANC team led by police inspector Santosh Bhalekar.
The team had allegedly recovered 10.2 kilograms of mephedrone worth Rs 2.4 crore from Waghela. Waghela’s arrest led to the search for the source of the banned contraband he was carrying and it led the ANC to the Hubli factory located amid lush green farmlands.
The ANC also arrested the factory’s operator, R. Naik, a post-graduate in organic chemistry from Karnataka’s Dharwad University in 2006 who had been tasked with creating mephedrone on the basis of formulae and raw materials provided to him.
The search at the factory had yielded mephedrone worth 7 kg. The police us gathering evidence to nab the syndicate’s absconding controller, who is based in Europe. “The kingpin is the one who financed the Rs 3 crore Hubli factory six months ago,” said the source.
The factory was set up with the help of four pieces of a key-manufacturing equipment, known as “reactors,” which used in making mephedrone, as first reported by The Asian Age on February 14.