The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) sleuths have busted illegal manufacturing and distribution of a psychotropic substance called Mephedrone in Hyderabad and seized 142.6 kgs.
According to the DRI officials, the raids were conducted on the morning of August 15 when the entire nation was celebrating the 74th Independence Day. The officers raided the premises on the outskirts of Hyderabad and seized the factory under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act), for illegally manufacturing. The seized substance was valued at 28.52 Crores approx. and 31 kgs of Ephedrine, a controlled substance under the NDPS Act, valued at 3.1 Crores was also seized along with it. Apart from the aforesaid drugs, raw materials which were procured for further manufacture of Mephedrone of around 250 Kgs worth Rs.50 Crores, were seized from the factory premises. The said drugs were meant for supply to various cities in India.
One such consignment sent from Hyderabad was intercepted at Mumbai. The Mephedrone consignment had been cleverly loaded in a private passenger bus as cargo with no persons accompanying it, to ensure that even if the consignment was caught, no individuals could be linked to it. However, in a series of swift follow-up raids, the recipients of the consignment in Mumbai were identified and their premises including a drug manufacturing laboratory in residential premises raided by DRI, resulting in the recovery of Mephedrone and Ketamine ready to be distributed, in addition to samples of other psychotropic substances, clearly indicating a sophisticated distribution network both within the country and abroad.
In a carefully coordinated operation spread out over 3 days across multiple locations in Hyderabad and Mumbai, officers of DRI seized over 250 Kgs of the following drugs viz. Mephedrone – 210 kg, Ketamine – 10 kg, Ephedrine – 31 kg worth Rs. 47 Crores and raw materials kept ready for the manufacture of 250 Kgs of Mephedrone worth Rs. 50 Crores.
Further, cash of Rs. 45 lakh in INR, USD and EUR currency notes, was seized. In the said operation, the mastermind who was illegally manufacturing the said drugs was arrested in Hyderabad and another 2 persons were arrested in Mumbai. The mastermind is a past offender and arrested by DRI in 2017 under the provisions of the NDPS Act and was enlarged on bail.
Mephedrone is a synthetic stimulant drug generally abused for recreation and popular among the urban college-going crowd. It is colloquially known as bath salt, Meow Meow, etc. and is known for its effects similar to that of MDMA, amphetamines and cocaine.
Ketamine, popularly used as a party and date rape drug, was brought under the purview of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 in 2011 as a controlled substance to be manufactured under special licence after incidents of its smuggling and recreational use came to light. Also known as Special K or Kit Kat, Ketamine leaves the user with a sense of euphoria or a feeling of disconnect from the self. Even a little overdose can cause severe damage to the body’s motor control and lead to cardiac arrest and paralysis.
Ephedrine is a highly sought-after chemical precursor in the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine. The syndicate had a well-established chain of supply both within and outside the country. The payment for the raw material and finished products took place through Hawala channels.
This seizure of contraband from such multi-state operation, coming on the heels of the recent seizure of Afghan Heroin worth Rs.1000 Crores, from a container which had arrived from Iran, shows that DRI is at the forefront of combating the Drug menace in India.