Mumbai City Anti Narcotics Cell Arrested
Two Persons And Seized 1,800kg cannabis Worth Rs 3.5 crore
The city Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC) arrested two persons and seized 1,800kg ganja worth Rs 3.5 crore from a tempo near Vikhroli on the Eastern Express highway.
The police had laid a trap and intercepted the tempo at 5pm on Friday. The accused had smuggled the drug into the city from Odisha. The main buyer and supplier, Sandeep Satpute, a resident of Louis Wadi in Thane, is wanted in the case, said police.
The racket would smuggle around 5 tonnes of ganja in the state every month and around 3.5 tonnes would be distributed in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Palghar alone.
Milind Bharambe, joint commissioner of police (Crime) said that the police had received information and were working on it for the last couple of days. “It was more of a physical and technical investigation and chasing for the information. Our team intercepted a tempo which contained coconuts. When examined carefully, we found 1,800 kg of ganja hidden in a cavity made under the surface of the tempo. The coconuts were kept over it,” said Bharambe.
The police arrested Akash Yadav (35), tempo driver, and his accomplice Dineshkumar Saroj alias Sonu (40). Yadav originally belongs to Pratapgarh in UP and is currently staying in Surat, Gujarat. They have been booked under the stringent NDPS act. Yadav is a key accused in the drug case. “There are three criminal cases registered against him in Gujarat,” said DCP Dutta Nalawade of the ANC. Sonu stays at Louiswadi in Thane.
The racket was operating discreetly for the last 5-6 years. “We are looking for the main operator, Sandeep Satpute, who would receive the drugs in Maharashtra and supply it. He owned a godown in Bhiwandi for this purpose. The gang would hire tempo and a driver would take it out of the city. Later, another driver would take it to a district in Andhra Pradesh border. The driver of the tempo would be asked to stay in a hotel and his mobile would be seized. Another driver would then take the tempo further and reach in Odisha where they would keep the ganja in it, cover it with coconuts and bring it to the hotel. The driver, staying in the hotel, would be asked to take the tempo to Maharashtra,” said Bharambe. When the driver reaches Mumbai or neighboring areas, he would be replaced by another driver who would take the consignment to Bhiwandi, added police.
During investigation it has emerged that one Laxmi Pradhan, who operates from Odisha, is the prime accused selling it to Satpute. “The Maharashtra accused would make payment to Pradhan in cash, through hawala and bank transfers as well,” added Bharambe. Yadav told police that he had given some ganja to other accused in Solapur and Pune as well before coming to Mumbai. The police are now also probing if there are some naxal links since the tempos would pass from the naxal affected areas in Andhra Pradesh. “Yadav knew about the ganja in tempo but he didn’t know the source,” added an officer. The ganja would be bought Rs 8,000 per kg from Pradhan and sold in Maharashtra for Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000 per kg.