In a shocking incident, a man who used to move around near schools and residential areas in the guise of a toy vendor turned out to be a brown sugar peddler.
The accused, identified as Vipin Kumar Rasthogi aka Minku Bhai, 70, of Uttar Pradesh, was arrested by the Ernakulam Excise Special Squad with 4.50 grams of brown sugar packed into 60 micro plastic satchels. More of the same drug was seized in a raid conducted at the place where he lived. The seized drug was of high quality, according to excise officials.
The accused drew attention of the enforcement agency after he was regularly approached by youngsters near Thevara despite the fact that he was a vendor of toys meant for children. He had since been under the surveillance of the city metro shadow team and Ernakulam intelligence wing of the excise.
Subsequently, a group of excise officials in disguise established a friendship with him. This led to the discovery that the accused was actively into peddling brown sugar.
The excise officials then approached him feigning to be consumers of drugs. The price was fixed and a deal was made. The accused even taught the officials how to use the drug.
When it dawned on him that his ‘customers’ were actually excise officials in plain clothes, the accused made an unsuccessful attempt to flee by an autorickshaw.
According to officials, he used to sell a gram of brown sugar for ₹1,500. He reportedly smuggled in the drug from Uttar Pradesh.
That the toy vendor who used to be known as ‘Minku Bappu’ among the children was caught with drugs sent shock waves through the neighbourhood.
Excise department is set to launch a probe in association with other agencies to find the source of the drugs and whether more were involved in the trade.
A team comprising excise circle inspector M. Sajeev Kumar, preventive officer N.A. Manoj, intelligence preventive officer N.G. Ajith Kumar, civil excise officers of city metro shadow team N.D. Tomy and T.M. James made the arrest.