A rice exporter has been arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau at Kurukshetra in Haryana for allegedly smuggling out huge contrabands of ephedrine concealed in Basmati consignments for supply to Australia. The agency suspects that he had so far sent about half-a-dozen consignments containing the precursor that is used in the illegal manufacturing of a highly addictive drug, methamphetamine.

The tip-off on accused Satish Bansal came after the Australian Federal Police smashed an international drug racket with the seizure of 274 kg of ephedrine shipped from India and arrest of four persons including an Indian and two Vietnamese nationals. The agency’s Chandigarh Zonal Unit followed the lead and arrested him in Kurukshetra after 2.6 kg of pseudoephedrine/ephedrine was allegedly seized from his house.

Investigations revealed that the syndicate was spread across several countries including Thailand and Vietnam. “In the last consignment, Satish Bansal had mixed about 275 kg of ephedrine with 40 tonnes of rice packed in about 170 bags. The NCB had kept him under surveillance for the past two months and arrested him on September 24 after a confirmation from Australia about the seizure and arrests made there,” said NCB Deputy Director General (Northern Region) R.P. Singh.

At the instance of Satish Bansal, the NCB sleuths have detained another person from Punjab for interrogation. In his statement, Satish has allegedly confessed that he had been supplying precursor chemical substance for the past two years along with his accomplices in Thailand and Australia. He exported the Basmati rice under the brand name “Chef Choice Super Rice”.

Drug enforcement agencies have in this recent past noticed a trend indicating a steep rise in large-scale pilferage and illegal manufacturing of ephedrine for smuggling to various countries, including Myanmar, South Africa and Mexico. While several contrabands have been seized at the airports, they have also come across instances of the stuff being smuggled in trucks, concealed in various goods of daily use, to the North-Eastern States.