Spelling more trouble for the accused arrested in the ephedrine drug bust case, the Thane police claimed to have unearthed proof that, they say, indicated that in the past year, ephedrine was being specially produced in the company to be smuggled outside the country for making narcotics.
The Thane police had earlier said that just the discarded ephedrine by-product, found in a tinshed inside the compound of Avon Lifesciences Ltd at Solapur, was being smuggled out. If the police can establish that pure ephedrine was being smuggled abroad, it will negate the stand of the accused that the ephedrine by-product from the tinshed was a waste product and did not have any value.
The 350-page chargesheet filed by the Thane police has the statement of an employee of Avon Lifesciences. The employee has confirmed to the police that the company had been producing ephedrine, even though there had been no such orders since 2014.
In the statement, the employee added that he was aware that the production of ephedrine was being done at the instructions of Manoj Jain, one of the directors of the company. Jain is one of the 10 accused who have been arrested and chargesheeted in the case by the Thane police.
The Thane police case is that Ephedrine, a controlled substance used in cough syrups, was being diverted from Avon LIfesciences Ltd to a Kenya-based drug cartel, led by international drug lord Vicky Goswami. Police have named Goswami, former starlet Mamta Kulkarni and five others as wanted accused in the case. Goswami would receive Ephedrine, made at only three companies across India, and use it to cook party drug Meth that would eventually be smuggled to the US.
ACP Bharat Shelke, who is the investigating officer in the case, said, “So far, we have been focusing on the ephedrine by-product that we found from the tinshed. However, it is curious that despite not getting orders since 2014, the company still prepared another batch of ephedrine in 2015.”
He added, “When we questioned the firm, it said it was producing Ephedrine to fulfill prior orders. However, the produced quantity is much larger than the orders that were pending.”
One of the defence lawyers, however, said that since the police had realised that the ephedrine by-product had no value and they had no evidence against the accused, they were now saying that ephedrine was also being smuggled out.
Another factor that the police claimed to have established on the basis of the five statements of the security guards stationed at Avon Lifesciences, was that the ephedrine was being smuggled out of the company by Puneet Shringi, one of the arrested accused, along with others, since last year. “The statements of the security guards say that Shringi, along with the other accused, would get cars and tempos post 6 pm and carry out boxes from inside the godown where psudoephedrine was stored. There was extraordinary secrecy maintained around the godowns and the CCTV cameras too had been taken down by Shringi.”