February 13, 2021 11:54:54 pm
THE ANTI-NARCOTICS Cell (ANC) of Mumbai Crime Branch on Friday claimed to have seized 1,800 kg of marijuana from a tempo intercepted on Eastern Express Highway near Vikhroli. The seized contraband is worth Rs 3.6 crore, which was smuggled from Odisha, police said. Only two persons have been arrested in the case, so far.
According to police, they received a tip-off following which the Ghatkopar unit of the ANC, led by Inspector Lata Sutar, laid a trap. Police said the two persons, identified as Akash Yadav (25) and Dineshkumar Saroj (23), who were arrested were working as driver and cleaner for the truck hired by a person, identified as Sandeep Satpute, who is the leader of a drug syndicate allegedly operating from Bhiwandi.
An officer said the two were taking the truck to a godown in Bhiwandi, which is owned by Satpute, and had little knowledge on what they were transporting.
Officials also said the group, run by Satpute, has been smuggling marijuana from Odisha over the past five years, and they would hire a tempo to transport eatables from Andhra Pradesh-Odisha border to Mumbai.
Police further said the smuggling was done so discreetly that the driver and cleaner of the tempo were not allowed to use a mobile phone.
“They would drive up to Ganjam district in Odisha, from where the suppliers would take charge of the tempo, load narcotics and return the tempo within four days,” an officer said, adding that marijuana was stuffed between sacks of coconut.
Police said it has learnt that the marijuana was being supplied by a person, identified as Laxmi Pradhan, based out of Kandhamal district in Odisha.
Satpute’s group hired different tempos for every trip, and neither the driver nor cleaner was allowed to come close to their godown in Bhiwandi, as they would depute them from a location and took over custody of the tempo from another location.
“After unloading the marijuana, Satpute’s men would then return the vehicle,” an officer said, adding that Satpute, who was currently on the run, took care of the distribution in Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
“They would approximately transport five tonnes of marijuana on every trip, and would do two such trips every month,” an officer said.
Satpute’s men either made the payment in cash, online transfer or hawala channels, police said.
“We have learnt that the group has unloaded some marijuana in Solapur and Pune, we are trying to identify the persons who bought the narcotic substance,” an officer said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines