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Drugs cartel busted, 30.5 lakh opioid pills, 70,000 cough syrups, and 15 kilos of amphetamine seized; 4 held

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 13-04-2021 HT Correspondent, New Delhi
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The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Monday said it busted an international drugs cartel and seized 30.5 lakh opioid pills, 70,000 codeine-based cough syrups and nearly 15 kilograms of amphetamine that were manufactured by an authorised pharmaceutical company in Uttarakhand, which allegedly fudged records and supplied them to drug traffickers who further parcelled them out to the UK, the US and European countries.

Four persons of the cartel have been arrested from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in the past 10 days, while the recovery of the contraband were made in 34 seizures by the NCB’s Delhi zone team during the same period.

NCB’s deputy director (operations) KPS Malhotra said the members of the cartel used the darknet to receive orders from international clients and they used various other encrypted platforms, including WhatsApp, to communicate with suppliers and carriers for the delivery of drug consignments.

“They used encrypted platforms to ensure the anonymity of both the receivers of consignments and the people involved in the logistics. The destinations of the consignments were primarily the US, the UK and Europe. To evade the law and escape detection, the syndicate used to conceal the psychotropic drugs in herbal supplement packages,” Malhotra said.

NCB officials said last month, more than two parcels of “herbal supplements”, destined for an address in the UK, were seized from a courier company in west Delhi’s Kirti Nagar following a tipoff that the parcels actually contained psychotropic drugs.

The packets were opened and more than two kilos of opioid pills (tramadol) -- the use of opioid pills is strictly curtailed across the world -- were recovered.

“We traced the supply chain and found that multiple channels were used to deliver the parcels to the courier company. Our efforts led us to a drug peddler, Kapil Aggarwal in Agra, UP, from whose godown at least a dozen similar parcels, all destined for the same UK address, were seized. We arrested Aggarwal and his interrogation led us to man named A Goyal, also from Agra, and the recovery of more such pills,” said an NCB officer, who asked not to be named.

During his interrogation, Goyal disclosed the name of a key player of the syndicate whose job was to receive orders on the darknet and further issue instructions on WhatsApp and other encrypted platforms for procurement, packaging and dispatch of the contraband, the deputy director said. NCB did not reveal the name of the key player, citing ongoing investigations.

“Goyal also revealed that the opioid pills were being supplied to them by a pharmaceutical company in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. We searched the factory, found discrepancies in the documentation and seized more tramadol pills, cough syrup and other psychotropic drugs. The owner of the company is currently on the run,” Malhotra said.

According to Malhotra, their investigation revealed that the syndicate is a complex one and connected to various other groups involved in the illegal trade using a similar modus operandi. Last year, in a similar operation, the police had arrested a man named Mausam alias Kashmir and the name of one Som Dutt from Delhi had emerged during Mausam’s interrogation.

“As Dutt’s name also surfaced during the interrogation of Aggarwal and Goyal, our team collected information about him from Delhi’s Narela. Dutt is one of the prominent shippers of the cartel and he uses India Post for sending consignments to the US and UK, using forged IDs. Dutt’s interrogation led to the arrest of Manish from Balia in Uttar Pradesh,” added the deputy director.

He said the arrest of the factory owner and the key player will help the bureau to further unravel the cartel and its dealings.

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