THE THANE police are on the lookout for one ‘Romil bhai’, an Indian who currently lives in Morocco and is suspected to be part of a drug cartel in that country. According to the police, Romil, along with another Moroccan Alex, met Jay Mukhi, Manoj Jain and Kishore Rathod, all accused in the Ephedrine drug bust case, at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in April.
The police suspect that this meeting was held to work out an arrangement to supply Ephedrine to the Morocco-based cartel. The police are probing if international drug lord Vicky Goswami facilitated this meeting.
According to the police, a Solapur-based pharma company Avon Lifesciences Limited, which had permission to manufacture Ephedrine — a controlled substance used to make medicines — was illegally diverting it to a drug cartel. The cartel, headed by Goswami, was allegedly using it to cook party drug Methamphetamine, also known as Ice, and supply it to the USA, Mexico, South Africa and other African countries.
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In April, 18.5 tonne Ephedrine was seized from the Solapur unit of Avon Lifesciences Limited. The Thane police have so far arrested 10 persons in the case. The defence lawyers of the accused have so far maintained that what the police seized was D-Ephedrine, a waste product and of no value in the market.
A senior officer said they are probing if the accused were supplying the drug to other cartels apart from the one allegedly operated by Goswami out of Kenya.
“In this regard, we are trying to ascertain the identity of Romil bhai, whom some of the arrested accused keep referring to. They told us that they had attended a meeting at Burj Khalifa at which Moroccan nationals Romil and Alex were present,” the officer said.
“We have information that Romil hails from Gujarat and has shifted to Morocco,” he added.
Apart from this, a team from the Thane police has recorded statements of some of the people working at Avon Lifesciences Ltd. “Many of them worked at the factory for a few days before realising that the stealthy transportation of Ephedrine was illegal, and then quit. Later, some of the accused started transporting Ephedrine in the night or during weekends to avoid attention,” the officer said.
The police are still on the lookout for Kishore Rathod, son of a former Gujarat legislator and an important link in the chain. An officer said that Rathod was known to Goswami as they resided in the same locality in Gujarat and were family friends. “We have some leads and are on the lookout for him,” said U Shelke, senior police inspector, Anti Narcotics Cell.