Banned drug Ephedrine worth Rs 2,000 cr seized from chemical firm, manager among 4 arrested

While Ephedrine's controlled manufacturing as a bulk drug for pharmaceutical use is legal in India, its retail sale as an OTC drug is, however, illegal.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: April 17, 2016 3:27 am
Ephedrine, Ephedrine seized, India banned drugs, banned drugs India, Ephedrine in India, India Ephedrine, India news Ephedrine, the sale of which is banned in India, is popularly used overseas to treat asthma and bronchitis. (Representational/Thinkstock photo)

In one of the biggest drug hauls in Maharashtra, the Thane Police seized 18.5 tonnes of banned drug Ephedrine, valued at Rs 2,000 crore, from the Solapur facility of a chemical-manufacturing firm. Four people, including the firm’s senior production manager, have been placed under arrest. The police claim the drug was being diverted for unauthorised sale in Thane city.

Ephedrine, the sale of which is banned in India, is popularly used overseas to treat asthma and bronchitis. While controlled dosage eases breathing, its abuse, popularly in the powder form, is known to cause euphoria, hallucinations, delusions, hypertension and nausea. It is synthesised to produce the popular narcotic Methamphetamine.

While its controlled manufacturing as a bulk drug for pharmaceutical use is legal in India, its retail sale as an OTC drug is, however, illegal. The drug bust began with the arrest of Nigerian national Sipren Chinassa by the Thane Police Crime Branch on April 10. Chinassa, who was caught smuggling 500 grams of Ephedrine in Kalyan, allegedly told the police that two days later, two men would arrive in Thane’s Vartak Nagar locality in two Maruti Swift cars with the intention of selling Ephedrine there. “Already three to four tonnes of Ephedrine have left the godown for illegal sale. We have alerted the police in Gujarat and Goa,” said Thane Police Commissioner Parambir Singh.

Elaborating on the drug bust, Singh said a trap was laid on April 12, and Suresh Povle (28) and Mayur Sukhdere (25) were arrested after being found in possession of 2 kg of Ephedrine. Povle, the police said, is a Std X dropout while Sukhdere hold a Bachelor of Arts degree.

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Chinassa, Povle and Sukhdere know each other, as they are allegedly street-level drug peddlers. Probed about the source of the drug, Povle and Sukhdere reportedly told the police that it had been supplied to them by a man living in Solapur.

In Solapur, the police caught a 28-year-old man called Dhaneshwar Swami, who works in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) campus. The police have seized 5.5 kg of Ephedrine from him.

During interrogation, Swami allegedly told the police that a large quantity of the drug was stored in the offices of Avon Lifesciences Limited, also located in MIDC. According to the police, 7.6 kg of Ephedrine was found stored in the cabin of Rajendra Dimri, the firm’s senior production manager.

Acting upon Swami’s information, the police then searched the godown and found 10,071.5 kg of Ephedrine and 8,541 kg of pseudo-ephedrine.

Hyderabad-based Avon Lifesciences Ltd is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and manufactures a range of pesticides, pharmaceuticals and dyes, according to its website. Incorporated in 1993 as Avon Organics Ltd, it changed to its present name in 2011.

Repeated phone calls made to its offices in Mumbai and Hyderabad seeking comment went unanswered.

“The Ephedrine we found was completely off the books. It was not mentioned in the company’s quarterly and half-yearly audits,” Singh said, adding, “There appears to be involvement of other persons in the company. We will interrogate more people.”

The godown has, for now, been sealed.

Meanwhile, the seizure in Solapur comes a day after the Gujarat Police on Friday raided a factory in the outskirts of Ahmedabad and seized 1,364 kg of Ephedrine worth Rs 270 crore. The Thane police, however, said the illegal sale wasn’t restricted just to state borders. “Ephedrine was being supplied internationally, possibly to Eastern Europe,” Singh said.

In Thane, one gram of Ephedrine sells for Rs 2,500 and Rs 4,000. At times, police said, drug peddlers also disguise Ephedrine as mephedrone and even cocaine.

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  1. Ionela Alina
    Apr 17, 2016 at 11:17 am
    I got a periodic health check in December 2015 and was diagnosed with high blood pressure (220/110). I tried my doctor's prescribed potium medication and the DASH diet, but neither were very effective. I was DESPERATE when I turned to the internet and found the Blood Pressure Protocol ( ). Months later, I am now predominantly organic, have a good BMI of21.7 and my blood pressure is back to normal. My advice to anyone out there is to focus on natural methods and cures FIRST.
    1. H
      hari das
      Apr 17, 2016 at 3:15 am
      The solution is legalisation, taxation, education and treatment. When things are illegal, the profit incentive leads people to take risks. It is usually low level distributors who are caught, the kingpins get away, and find new;br/gt;The undergound, the police and the netas are the ones who benefit from this scheme.
      1. P
        Apr 17, 2016 at 3:24 am
        you have no idea what the heck is going on in pharmaceutical companies....for production of ephedrine u need a heck of a laboratory which needs several reactors which cant be produced in a medium and micro fmcg or api unit,that leaves the ball in top pharmaceutical;br/gt;and there r companies who show only 10% as the product they produced but in contrast they produce more(ex:divis laboratories,,hetro)coon u have now idea what thse companies do .....
        1. P
          Apr 16, 2016 at 11:14 pm
          This may be a small catch. In India everything is possible because there are lakhs of people who are interested in making money by any means. Spurious drugs, adulteration in food, illegal use of band fertiliser, all at the cost of human Life.Only highest punishment can bee a remedy and wide publicity by medias to alert the citizens also may help.
          1. R
            Apr 16, 2016 at 11:12 pm
            My god! Shocking!
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