The director of a chemical company has been arrested for illegally supplying lethal opioid Fentanyl to an Italy-based company.
Deepak Mehta (59) of Sam Fine O Chemical Limited Company was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch on Thursday from Rajkot in Gujarat.
The matter came to light after four persons were arrested with chemicals worth Rs 1,000 crore from Kalina in December 2018. Salim Dola (52), Sandeep Tiwari (38), Ghanshyam Saroj (43) Chandramani Tiwari were arrested with four drums of Fentanyl. Each drum carried 25 kg of Fentanyl packed in plastic pouches. They were planning to ship the chemical, which is also used as an additive, to cartels in Mexico through the cargo at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.
Mehta’s name cropped up during their questioning. “Mehta had legally supplied 100 kg of Fentanyl to a trading company, which then sold the same to these four accused. The company wasn’t aware that the four would misuse these chemicals, so we have made them our prime witnesses,” said Shivdeep Lande, Deputy Commissioner of Police.
While investigating the 2018 case, the Anti-Narcotics Cell learnt that Mehta, along with his subordinates, had illegally supplied 400 kg of Fentanyl to a company in Italy without following norms or taking a no objection certificate from the concerned authorities.
“We checked with the officials in Italy. They have confirmed that no permission was granted to the company as well. We have learnt that a few custom officials were hand in glove with the masterminds,” said Lande.
The police said that Fentanyl can cause death when consumed in even in the smallest quantity. It is prescribed as a painkiller and an anesthetic but used recreationaly along with cocaine and heroin to increase the potency of the drugs.
Fifty times more powerful than heroin, it is the most abused prescription drug in the US, accounting for over 20,000 deaths of American citizens in 2016, according to reports.
Following pressure from the World Health Organisation, Fentanyl was named as an essential narcotic drug under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in 2015, allowing the central government to regulate its manufacture and supply only to recognised medical institutions in each state to be used as a palliative drug.