FORMER actor Mamta Kulkarni has been named an accused by Thane police for her alleged involvement in an international drug racket that involved smuggling of Ephedrine to manufacture narcotics. Police will soon begin the process of issuing a Red Corner Notice to get Kulkarni back to the country to face trial.
Kulkarni and her partner, Vicky Goswami, an alleged international drug lord, are suspected to be in Kenya. Police claim that Goswami already faces two drug-related cases against him in Kenya and was out on bail, and Kulkarni had been handling his affairs.
The police have so far nabbed 10 people in the case, after 18.5 tonnes of Ephedrine was seized from Solapur unit of a pharma firm, Avon Lifesciences Limited, in April. According to police, the company had permission to manufacture Ephedrine, a controlled substance used to make medicines, and was illegally diverting it to a drug cartel. Police claim Goswami heads the cartel, which was allegedly using it to cook a party drug called Methamphetamine, also known as Ice, and to supply it to the US, Mexico, South Africa and other African countries.
Thane Police commissioner Param Bir Singh said Kulkarni was to become a director in Avon Lifesciences. “Nearly 11 lakh shares of more than 2 crore shares of Avon were being transferred to her to make her eligible to become a director in the company. The shares, which cost between Rs 35 and Rs 40, were being sold at Rs 26 per share to Kulkarni by firm’s director Manoj Jain,” Singh said.
The plan to become a director and route money through hawala was Kulkarni’s, an officer said. The cartel would then transfer Ephedrine from Avon to Saboori Pharma in Tanzania — owned by Dr Abdulla, another wanted accused in the case — where it would be used to make meth.
“They decided on this arrangement to ensure monthly supply of nearly 9,000 kg of Ephedrine without problems from drug enforcement authorities. Companies manufacturing controlled substances like Ephedrine, which can be used to make drugs, have to give account of their produce. Avon would tell authorities that it was exporting Ephedrine to Saboori Pharma to make medicines,” said DCP Parag Manere.
Police also have statements by two of the 10 accused arrested — they have said Kulkarni was present in a meeting on January 8 in Kenya, where the logistics were decided. Besides Kulkarni, the meeting was allegedly attended by Goswami, Dr Abdulla, his two aides, arrested accused Jay Mukhi and two wanted persons: Jain and Kishore Rathod.
ACP Bharat Shelke, who is probing the case, said that when the talks were on, an Ephedrine sample of 100 kg was sent from the Solapur unit to Goswami through a person from Mohammad Ali Road here. “The sample was sent via air cargo to Africa. After Kulkarni and Goswami found it to be of good quality they organised the meeting in January,” Singh said. Another sample of 1,000 kg was to be sent to Africa via Gujarat, but it was seized by the Gujarat ATS.