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Mumbai is red-flagged as India’s cocaine capital

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN

Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, April 2:

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has red-flagged Mumbai as the cocaine capital of India. It also says that other metropolitan cities in this country are not lagging behind with the drug mafia spreading its tentacles in India, Canada and Australia.

As much as 2,499 kilograms of cocaine that was seized in the past two years in Sri Lanka, Port Elizabeth (South Africa) and Panama had India as its destination. The international market for this lethal drug is INR50 million per kilogram.

India is one of the biggest manufacturers of potassium per magnate, a precursor chemical. There is a growing suspicion that the processing of cocaine may be shifted by drug cartel from South America to India.

This is primarily due to the US Drug Enforcement Agency, the UK’s National Crime Agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Australian drug enforcement agencies’ pressure on the South American coca-producing countries.

According to top NCB officials, backtrack drug investigations have now confirmed that no less than 300kg of cocaine (worth INR15 billion in the international market) landed in Mumbai in December 2018 through a syndicate with links in India, Australia and Canada. The same syndicate was involved in the smuggling of 200kg of methamphetamine from Canada to Australia.

With all the drug enforcement agencies pooling their intelligence and resources on this network (not disclosed as it is an ongoing operation), as much as 20kg of cocaine was seized in India, 29kg of methamphetamine was recovered in the US, 55kg of cocaine and 200kg of methamphetamine was seized in Australia.

According to NCB, the syndicate was uncovered after an Indian internet protocol was involved in the smuggling of 200kg of methamphetamine from Canada to Australia. The said IP address was traced to one Akshinder Singh Sodhi of Punjab, who was later arrested with 422kg of cocaine in India.

The backtrack investigations of 55kg of cocaine concealed in a plasma cutting machine seized in Australia in June 2019 led the NCB to uncover the syndicate bases in India.

Investigations revealed that the drug syndicate had floated fake companies for the drug to be smuggled and then concealed at Rudrapur in Uttarakhand. Working on this intelligence, the NCB conducted raids in Rudrapur, Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Punjab and Delhi to cumulatively seize 20kg of cocaine with a number of arrests in these states, including Indonesian and Nigerian nationals.

NCB investigations into the smuggling of 300kg of cocaine in Mumbai led to the arrests of mastermind Harpal Singh aka Amrinder Chenna aka Laadhi and his associate Sandeep Deol, who arranged all the paperwork and logistics while in India during the landing of the drug. The other members of this syndicate have been identified with the accused both in India and Canada.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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