The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has seized 30.5 lakh opioid pills, 70,000 codeine-based cough syrups and nearly 15 kilogramme of amphetamine manufactured by a pharmaceutical company in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar, the federal drug law enforcement agency said on Monday.
The agency said the pharma company allegedly fudged records and supplied the drugs to traffickers who shipped them to the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe via the postal department.
Four persons have been arrested by the NCB from Delhi and Uttar Pradesh in the past 10 days. The statement said the contraband was seized in 34 searches conducted by the NCB’s Delhi zone team.
NCB’s deputy director (operations) KPS Malhotra said the traffickers used the darknet to receive orders from international clients and communicated with suppliers and carriers of the consignments using various encrypted platforms including WhatsApp.
“They used encrypted platforms to ensure the anonymity of both the receivers of consignments and the people involved in the logistics. The destinations of the consignments were primarily the US, the UK and Europe. To evade the law and escape detection, the syndicate used to conceal the psychotropic drugs in herbal supplement packages,” Malhotra said in a NCB statement.
NCB officials said last month, more than two parcels of “herbal supplements”, destined for an address in the UK, were seized from a courier company in west Delhi’s Kirti Nagar following a tipoff that the parcels contained psychotropic drugs.
The packets were opened and more than two kilos of opioid pills (Tramadol) — the use of opioid pills is strictly curtailed across the world — were recovered.
“We traced the supply chain and found that multiple channels were used to deliver the parcels to the courier company. Our efforts led us to a drug peddler, Kapil Aggarwal in Agra, UP, from whose godown at least a dozen similar parcels, all destined for the same UK address, were seized. We arrested Aggarwal and his interrogation led us to a man named A Goyal, also from Agra, and the recovery of more such pills,” said an NCB officer, who asked not to be named.
During his interrogation, Goyal disclosed the name of a key player of the syndicate whose job was to receive orders on the darknet and further issue instructions on WhatsApp and other encrypted platforms for procurement, packaging and dispatch of the contraband, the deputy director said. NCB did not reveal the name of the key player, citing ongoing investigations.
“Goyal also revealed that the opioid pills were being supplied to them by a pharmaceutical company in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. The NCB searched the factory, found discrepancies in the documentation and seized more tramadol pills, cough syrup and other psychotropic drugs. The owner of the company is currently on the run,” Malhotra said.
According to Malhotra, the NCB’s investigation revealed that the syndicate is a complex one and connected to various other groups involved in the illegal trade using a similar modus operandi. Last year, in a similar operation, the police had arrested a man named Mausam alias Kashmir and the name of one Som Dutt from Delhi had emerged during Mausam’s interrogation.
“As Dutt’s name also surfaced during the interrogation of Aggarwal and Goyal, our team collected information about him from Delhi’s Narela. Dutt is one of the prominent shippers of the cartel and he uses India Post for sending consignments to the US and UK, using forged IDs. Dutt’s interrogation led to the arrest of Manish from Balia in Uttar Pradesh,” added the NCB deputy director.
He said the arrest of the factory owner and the key player will help the NCB to further unravel the cartel and its dealings.