A consignment of methaqualone (Mandrax) worth Rs 23 crore, which was seized in Hyderabad last week, has been traced to a production unit in Maharashtra’s Osmanabad district. The land on which the unit stands is owned by a Pune-based resident.
Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials had arrested three people who were transporting the 46kg consignment in a car at Kamkole village in Sangareddy district in Hyderabad on January 11. The contraband, banned under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, was hidden in a false casing in the car.
Preliminary inquiries had revealed that the consignment was loaded into the car by a man at Umarga in Osmanabad district, who instructed the occupants to deliver it to agents in Chennai.
On January 13, DRI officials located the production unit on NH-9, which connects Pune to Hyderabad. “Officials of the Bengaluru unit of the DRI followed the trail and identified the 4,000 sqft production unit in the Umarga industrial zone where the banned substance was manufactured illegally using different chemicals,” said Sanjay Kale, joint commissioner (drugs), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Aurangabad.
Maharashtra’s FDA joined hands with the DRI who conducted a raid on the unit. During the raid, 500 grams of methaqualone worth Rs 50 lakh was seized from the unit.
“The banned drug was being manufactured as powder, transported to Hyderabad and from there to other places. The factory was being run as an electronic warehouse and was operational for the last six months,” Directorate of Revenue Intelligence officials said.
The officials later arrested three men from Mumbai who were operating the factory. “Methaqualone is a prohibited psychotropic substance. Its production and distribution is illegal in India. It is not a drug, hence it does not come under the FDA’s purview,” Kale said.
“Several teams are currently conducting searches in Hyderabad, Osmanabad, Kochi, Chennai and Bengaluru,” a DRI official said.