INDIA'S 'BIGGEST' DRUG RACKET BUSTED, BOLLYWOOD PRODUCER NABBED

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DIR) on Wednesday claimed to have busted India's biggest drug racket and recovered 23,500 kg of mandrax tablets (methaqualone) with an estimated value of Rs 4,700 crore in the international market. A Bollywood producer has been arrested in this connection, an official said. "It is India's biggest drug racket busted by the DRI. I think it should also be the world's biggest, as the seizure is around 23,500 kg. Its international value is estimated between Rs 4,500-Rs 4,700 crore," DRI Director General Jayant Misra told IANS.

Misra said: "DRI's Mumbai zonal unit got the tip-off. It was further developed with the help of the Border Security Force. A warehouse in Rajasthan's Udaipur city housing the drugs was busted on October 28. "In this connection, DRI arrested Bollywood producer Subhash Dudani from Mumbai on October 29," he added. Officers of the DRI, an apex counter-smuggling agency of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), estimate the total number of mandrax tablets to be about two crore. Officers investigating the case found that the major raw material for mandrax was acetic anhydride, which was manufactured by the syndicate at Shreenath Industries in Rajsamand district in Rajasthan. Apart from acetic anhydride, the other raw materials for mandrax are anthranilic acid, orthotoloudiene, and caustic soda, the DRI DG said.

He said anthranilic acid was imported from Indonesia through Kandla Port in Kutch district of Gujarat by misdeclaring it as maleic anhydride while caustic soda was procured locally. The officer further said "methaqualone is a depressant, overdose of which can lead to coma and death". "It is used as a recreational drug in Africa and Asia. It is commonly known as mandrax, m-pills, buttons, or smarties and is usually smoked mixed with cannabis," he said. The officer said the DRI had neutralised 10 other factories across several states in the recent past manufacturing various types of synthetic drugs like mephedrone, ketamine, alprazolam and precursor chemicals like ephedrine. In the last five years, the DRI has seized more than 540 kg of heroin and 7,400 kg of ephedrine along with other narcotics and psychotropic substances, said the officer, adding that the agency has been in active liaison with international enforcement agencies for combating the menace of drug abuse.

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