The Thane police are on the lookout for the ‘kingpin’ of the gang that was busted on Saturday following the seizure of banned drug Ephedrine worth Rs 2,000 crore from the Solapur facility of a chemical manufacturing firm.
While the police have so far arrested five persons, including the firm’s senior production manager, they believe that the kingpin is a person brought in to the company nearly a year ago, who would oversee the drugs being distributed for unauthorised use in the city.
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Ephedrine, the sale of which is banned in India, is popularly used overseas to treat asthma and bronchitis. While controlled dosage eases breathing, its abuse, popularly in the powder form, is known to cause euphoria, hypertension and nausea. It is synthesised to produce the popular narcotic Methamphetamine.
On April 10. the police had arrested a Nigerian national, Sipren Chinassa, who was allegedly smuggling 500 grams of Ephedrine in Kalyan. His interrogation had led to the arrest of three others, including a Solapur resident. Based on their interrogation, Avon Lifesciences Limited office in Solapur MIDC was raided, and 18.5 tonnes of Ephedrine allegedly recovered. The police then eventually arrested the senior production manager of the unit.
A senior officer, requesting anonymity, said they are pursuing several leads in the case, including that of a Polish drug cartel being in contact with the arrested accused.
“However, to say anything for certain, we would need to arrest the main accused, who is currently absconding. He was the one who was in touch with the various people involved in selling the drugs. In fact, recently, he had taken nearly 100 kg from the unit to sell it. His arrest will give us the complete picture,” the senior officer said.
Avon Lifesciences Ltd is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and manufactures a range of pesticides, pharmaceuticals and dyes, according to its website. Incorporated in 1993 as Avon Organics Ltd, it changed to its present name in 2011.
A team from the Thane police will head to Solapur on Monday to check the paper work and find out who the actual owners of the pharmaceutical company were.
“ We should get more clarity on who owns the company once we check the paper work. If there has been a change in ownership, it should reflect in the paperwork,” an officer said.
Another officer said that while the company may have permission to produce Ephedrine, it was being diverted to be used as drugs.
“Of the 18 tonnes we found, nearly 10 tonnes were hidden in a shed in the compound of the unit. If they were doing legal work, why would they need to hide the chemical ?,” an officer added.
The seizure in Solapur came a day after the Gujarat Police on Friday raided a factory on the outskirts of Ahmedabad and seized 1,364 kg of Ephedrine worth Rs 270 crore. An officer said the Ephedrine found in Gujarat had also been sent from Solapur. “There are two other states in north India where the drug was being smuggled from here. Also, we strongly suspect the involvement of a Polish drug cartel,” the officer said.