Pune Police’s 1800 kg MD Drugs Seizure Leads To Hunt For Accused In Seven Countries: Commissioner Amitesh Kumar

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Tikam Shekhawat & Mubarak Ansari

Pune, 22nd February 2024: Pune Police Commissioner, Amitesh Kumar, today provided crucial updates on the ongoing investigation into a major Mephedrone (MD) drug racket spanning Sangli, Delhi, and Pune. The police have taken swift action, with teams deployed across seven countries to apprehend absconding suspects, collaborating closely with central agencies to dismantle the illicit drug network.

According to Pune police, Sundip Dhunay is the mastermind of the drug case. Pune Police, with the help of the CBI, has recommended issuing a ‘Interpol Red Corner’ notice. The police have received crucial information indicating that the accused is currently in Kuwait.

Sundip Dhunay

“We are intensifying our efforts to expedite these cases, including the appointment of a special public prosecutor. We have pre-positioned our teams in different parts of the country,” Commissioner Kumar stated during the briefing.

National agencies like NIA, CBI, NCB have also participated in the investigation of this case. Sources informed that Hawala racket is also being investigated along with ‘terror funding’, ‘underworld’ connection.

The gravity of the situation is highlighted by the staggering seizure of approximately 1800 kg of MD, valued at around Rs 3700 crores in the international market. “The seized consignments in other cities and some arrested accused are being brought to Pune”, he added.

The investigation has unraveled international links to the drug racket, revealing a connection between the seized MD drugs and shipments to London via flights disguised within ready-to-eat food parcels. Police suspect that the accused were active for the last 2-3 years.

According to Police Commissioner Amitesh Kumar, Dhunay is of Indian origin and holds a British passport. In 2016, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized 150 kg of MD from him. At that time, the DRI had arrested the accused Vipin Kumar from Pune. Dhunay was arrested based on the information received from him. Vipin Kumar is currently lodged in Yerawada Jail, while Dhunay is out on bail. It was he who assigned the task of manufacturing MD drugs to Yuvraj Bhujbal (41) at Earthchem Laboratories located in Kurkumbh MIDC near Daund, Pune district, Maharashtra.

According to officials, the accused produced MD drugs, also known as Meow Meow drugs, in large quantities at Earthchem Laboratories and then transported to other cities for retail sale. Police have till now arrested nine persons including the factory owner Bhimaji alias Anil Parshuram Sable (45), a resident of Chinchwad.

Dhunay, the prime accused in the Pune drug case, had gone to Kathmandu in Nepal on January 30. Here, he tried to find a place to store MD drugs. The MD that was seized in Delhi by the Pune Police was intended to be hidden in Nepal and then sent to London. Meanwhile, Dhunay escaped from Nepal to Kuwait.

Gang formed in Yerawada Central Jail

Ayub Makandar from Sangli was arrested in an operation by DRI in Pune. Makandar, Vipin Kumar, and Dhunay were lodged in Yerawada Central Jail. At that time, accused Vaibhav alias Pintya Bharat Mane and Hyder Shaikh came in contact with these accused. There, they got to know and formed a new gang involved in a drug racket. After Dhunay got out on bail, he resumed manufacturing drugs. He gave Yuvraj Bhujbal a target of producing 2000 kg of drugs.

Commissioner Kumar emphasized the collective effort, stating, “There is no one-upmanship; all agencies are working in close coordination. The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) and Delhi Police supported Pune police team to successfully seize MD drugs in Delhi.”

The focus of the operation is now shifting towards dismantling the retail chain, targeting wholesale dealers and closely monitoring chemical companies associated with the illicit trade. Local police stations will conduct rigorous checks on such companies, with collaborative efforts involving government departments like MPCB, FDA, Industrial Safety and Health among others to take strict actions.

The drug haul case is being investigated under the guidance of Police Commissioner Amitesh Kumar, Joint Police Commissioner Pravin Pawar, Crime Branch Additional Police Commissioner Shailesh Balkawade. The teams are led by DCP (Crime) Amol Zende, Assistant Police Commissioners Satish Govekar and Sunil Tambe and their teams.

Deputy Chief Ministers Ajit Pawar and Devendra Fadnavis praised the Pune Police for their proactive and impactful actions against the MD drug racket.

Speaking to Punekar News, Superintendent of Police (Pune rural) Pankaj Deshmukh said, “Our teams will be checking chemical/pharma factories in Ranjangaon, Kurkumbh, Paud and other areas of Pune district, in collaboration with other state government departments like MPCB, FDA and Industrial Safety and Health etc.”

Arrested accused by Pune City Police

Police have already arrested Vaibhav alias Pintya Bharat Mane (age 40, resident of Somwar Peth), Ajay Amarnath Karosiya (age 35, resident of Bhawani Peth), Hyder Noor Shaikh (age 40, resident of Vishrantwadi), Bhimaji Parashuram Sable (age 40), Yuvraj Babruwan Bhujbal (aged 41, resident of Dombivli West), Divesh Chiranjeev Bhutia (resident of New Delhi), Sandeep Rajpal Kumar (resident of New Delhi) and Sandeep Hanuman Singh Yadav (resident of New Delhi), Ayub Akbarshah Makandar (aged 44, resident of Kupwad, Sangli) have been arrested.

Based on a complaint from constable Vitthal Vasantrao Salunkhe (47) of Crime Branch unit 1, an FIR has been registered against the accused persons at Samarth police station on 19th February 2024.

Police officials said that there is another case registered in Bihar against Dhunay for allegedly ‘kidnapping’ wife of accused Vipin Kumar.