Ahmedabad: In the biggest ever joint operation, officials of the Ahmedabad city police Crime Branch and Anti-Terrorist Squad seized about 1,300 kg of a chemical, ephedrine, worth over Rs 270 crore from a factory on the Naroda-Dehgam highway in Ahmedabad district.
A chemist, Narendra Kancha, was arrested from the factory near Kanbha late Thursday evening. Police are looking for Kishoresinh Rathod, son of a former north Gujarat Congress legislator Bhavsinh Rathod, and one Jay Mukhi, who are on the run.
Even as investigations are on, the Crime Branch officials suspect the chemical was being used to make narcotic and psychotropic substances, including methcathinone. A senior Crime Branch official claimed this is one of the biggest seizures in the country, and certainly the biggest in the state.
The raiding police team called in forensic experts to ascertain whether the seized material is banned under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS). The chemical, which was being processed, was brought in from near Pune in Maharashtra.
According to Crime Branch officials, they got a tip-off about a fortnight ago regarding the chemical being transported from Maharashtra.
A Crime Branch official, requesting anonymity since the investigation is still on, said: "We know that ephedrine itself is not a banned chemical and would be used to process it into a narcotic substance. Ephedrine is listed as a Table-I precursor under the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances."
Crime Branch and ATS officials had kept a vigil and raided the factory premises just as they suspected that the chemical was being processed. Visiting forensic experts orally confirmed to the police the processed material could be a banned substance.
A team of the Crime Branch has been dispatched to Maharashtra to identify the kingpin behind the racket. The police believe the material was brought to Gujarat in the wake of intensified vigil in the neighbouring state. "We are probing who the drug was to be delivered to," an official said.
Police said chemist Narendra Kancha had hired the factory premises as a drug storage for a rent of Rs 31,000. He had come into contact with Kishoresinh Rathod a couple of years ago and the latter ushered him into this business.
Rathod and Jay Mukhi had reportedly been in touch with a drug mafia of Poland, whom they had met in Dubai, and would probably facilitate the transfer of the processed ephedrine to Europe for consumption as a party drug.
Crime Branch sources said these are the initial leads on which the police are working and further investigations were on.