The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has busted an illegal Mephedrone manufacturing racket spread across Maharashtra and Gujarat and seized about 238 kg of the contraband. The agency also arrested four people including the the suspected mastermind of the gang from Virar in Palghar district, said sources familiar with the development.
Sources said the mastermind of the illegal racket, Bhanudas More, also known as Bhavesh Patel, leased a portion of a paint factory— Rainbow Paints in Palghar —for three months and illegally manufactured Mephedrone, commonly known as Meow Meow, a psychotropic substance under the NDPS Act, with the help of two chemical experts and a middleman Rauf Lulania (50).
“The gang used to pay a hefty rent and lease space in paint factories on the pretext of making resin but instead used to make Mephedrone illegally in batches for three months and then move out of the factory in search of another place to manufacture the contraband. The agency has also seized 8.3 kg of hashish from More’s residence,” said an official.
The DRI has found that the syndicate had installed Glass Line Reactor for manufacturing mephedron. “Lulania helped Bhanudas More to procure equipment for setting up the plant and also convinced Raghuvir Patil, owner of Rainbow Paints, to allow them to utilise the storage tank of the paint company and allow them to erect Glass Line Reactor which is the main plant for manufacture of the slurry of Mephedrone,” said the official.
The DRI has also arrested More’s partner and the main financier of the racket, Wazhul Kamar, also known as Pappu Choudhary, in connection with the case. Both More, 54, and Kamar, 48, have previously been convicted for six years and ten years, respectively, in two separate drug cases in 2001-2002. More is also wanted by the ATS in a 151-kg Mephedrone haul case registered by the agency in July 2015. Sources said More was the main raw material supplier in the case booked by the ATS.
“More and Kamar became friends in 2003 in Arthur Road jail where both were serving their sentence in connection with two separate drug cases. While More used to manufacture Mephedrone, Kamar was responsible for distribution of the contraband to retailers in the country and abroad,” said a source.
Kamar, during interrogation, stated he met More in 2014 and “hatched the plan of manufacturing ephedrine” at Rainbow Paints and he was responsible for selling “the Mephedrone in Nepal, as he was in touch with various drug dealers in Nepal”. Kamra had promised More a profit of Rs 1 lakh per kg of Mephedrone.
The agency is now probing if the contraband was exported to South Africa and Nepal as both More and Kamar were in touch with retailers abroad. Sources said the DRI had already identified a few African buyers of the contraband after More confessed that he sold 18 kg of Mephedrone in crystalline powder form to two African nationals in the first week of March.
Under the NDPS Act, a repeat offender can get jail term for up to 30 years or even death sentence. A Mumbai court has sent all four accused to judicial custody till April 3.