Pune City Police has seized gutkha and raw material worth Rs 15 crore during raids at a company in Silvasa in Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Police said the raids were conducted following leads obtained during the investigation into the recent crackdown on illegal gutkha sales in the city.
Police said that prove also revealed that financial transaction for this illegal gutkha business was being done through a hawala racket.
On November 17 last year, the Pune City Police had conducted a series of actions against gutkha sale in the city. In a case registered at Chandan Nagar police station, police initially arrested five persons identified as Suresh Agarwal, Akshay Agarwal, Akash Agarwal, Pravin Wahul and Niraj Snighal and seized from them gutkha and other items worth Rs 7.5 lakh.
Investigation in the case was then handed over to the Crime Branch. Police had also arrested two transporters and two more distributors of gutkha.
A team from the Crime Branch Unit-4, led by Inspector Rajnish Nirmal, then started an investigation into the transactions made by the two distributors. They found that the two had been transacting with gutkha suppliers at other places through a hawala ring.
Later, teams from Crime Branch Unit-4 and Zone 1 of the Pune Police conducted joint raids at five locations in the city and arrested nine persons, who allegedly have links with hawala racketeers and Rs 4 crore in cash was seized from their possession.
During further investigation, police got specific information about gutkha racketeers from Vapi in Gujarat and Silvasa in Dadara and Nagar Haveli, who were allegedly manufacturing banned gutkha products and supplying them to various locations.
A Crime Branch team comprising Sub-inspector Jaydeep Patil and policemen Rajas Shaikh, Sachin Dhawale, Kaustubh Jadhav, Sheetal Shinde was dispatched on Wednesday to Vapi and Silvasa. “The Crime Branch sleuths worked on the information received from their sources and raided ‘Kashi Ventures’, a company in Silvasa, with the help of local police and Food and Drug Administration team,” said Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta.
A press release issued on Friday by the police stated that during the raid, ‘Goa gutkha’ and raw material like scents, tobacco, supari, calcium carbonate powder, methanol crystal, glycerin etc, together worth Rs 15 crore was seized.
The police said it was arguably the biggest raid and recovery during any action against illegal gutkha trade. Meanwhile, the police have launched search for the owner and manager of the company and also for those who supplied raw material.