The district police on Thursday arrested a Tarn Taran-based drug smuggler who had been evading arrest for more than two decades. Balwinder Singh alias Billa (50) allegedly had links with Pakistan-based drug smugglers and was wanted by Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Punjab’s anti-drug Special Task Force (STF) for involvement in trans-border smuggling. He was arrested alongwith his accomplice.
Police also recovered 750 gm heroin from the accused. Both were remanded to four days’ police custody. Thirty-two SIM cards were recovered from the accused, which he allegedly used to contact his clients.
Billa is a resident of Havellian village in Tarn Taran district. His accomplice Amrik Singh Dedhna, is a resident of Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib district. Both were arrested from near Chandpur toll plaza on Sinswan-Baddi road. They were intercepted by police while coming from the Mullanpur side in an Innova car.
Police will also probe whether Billa was involved in the 532 kg heroin smuggling case, as one of the accused in that case, Ranjeet Rana, is a resident of a village neighbouring Billa’s native place.
Both accused were living in an apartment in Chandigarh’s Sector 63, which was also searched.
Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kuldeep Singh Chahal, while addressing the media, said that Billa have been involved in drug smuggling and fake currency rackets since 1990. He added that Billa was booked in 14 criminal cases which included drug smuggling, attempt to murder and bring fake currency to India from Pakistan.
The first case of counterfeit currency was registered against Billa in November 1992 at Sarain Aamant Khan police station. The last FIR was registered against him in May 2014 in Amritsar district on charges of drug smuggling and the Arms Act.
“He had been evading arrest for a long time,” the SSP said.
He further said that Billa bought a lot of property using money earned from the drug trade; he owned a house and 90 acres of agricultural land in Havellian village, a plot on Khulla-Kingra road in Jalandhar, two 200 sq. yard residential plots, a 150 sq. yard plot and a house in Preet Nagar locality in Amritsar and 17 acres of agriculture land in Jhanjeri village near Mohali.
Asked whether the accused had links with Pakistan-based smugglers, he said that Billa was not only getting drugs into India from Pakistan, but was also supplying to other countries.
Speaking about the other accused, the SSP said Amrik Singh was involved in drug smuggling since 2004. He was had been sentenced to 10 years in a drug smuggling case in Patiala and was out on bail. The two accused had met in jail in 2008-10.