Devesh K. Pandey

Sleuths `recover' consignment meant for despatch to Canada

NEW DELHI: Investigations into recent seizures of ephedrine, a precursor to party drugs, in the Capital point to increasing involvement of Canadian nationals of Indian origin in the trade. One of the two persons arrested in connection with the latest seizure of 550 kg of ephedrine by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is also a Canadian national of Indian origin.

The NCB sleuths claim to have recovered Rs. 50 lakhs in cash and part of the ephedrine consignment meant for despatch to Canada through a courier agency from a vehicle in which the accused was travelling. The other part of the consignment was seized from the premises of the courier agency at Okhla. It had been packaged in plastic containers.

Going by the purported revelations made by the Canadian national, the consignment was to be sent to a person who himself is a Canadian of Indian origin. During interrogation, the accused claimed that he had come to India for the first time to procure ephedrine. The stuff, which is available here at cheaper rates, sells for about Rs.10 lakh per kg and it is the main reason why anti-narcotic enforcement agencies suspect Canadian nationals of Indian origin are being roped in to smuggle the stuff that is used to manufacture drugs like ecstasy and ice.

In the previous case booked by the South-West Delhi police last month in which 100 kg of ephedrine was seized, another Canadian national of Indian origin was arrested along with his Indian accomplices. During interrogation, he had purportedly disclosed that there were several like him, mainly those who migrated from different parts of Punjab, in the same trade. The accused was earlier arrested at Oregon in the United States for possessing marijuana for which he spent four years in prison after which he was deported to Canada.

He was then lured into the ephedrine trade by two other Canadian nationals and two Chinese brothers.

In both cases, the enforcement agencies have been unable to establish the points of origin of the consignments so far. However, seizures in the past have revealed that most of the units manufacturing this controlled chemical are located in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. There is a strong suspicion that ephedrine is being pilfered from even those units that have licence to produce and supply the chemical for medicinal purposes.