Hyderabad: I. Ramesh (34) came to Hyderabad from his native village Hanumanwadi of Bhongir 20 year ago to study, however he dropped out from college before finishing his science degree.
Since he could not secure a good job, the young Ramesh became one of the suffering blue-collar employees in the growing chemical industry. Years passed, and most of his colleagues remained poor. But Ramesh was ambitious, and now his assets are worth several crores, including a partnership in a hotel in Singapore, and many expensive plots in Mallapur, and other places.
For the last three years, away from the gazes of enforcement agencies, Ramesh was nurturing his multi-crore narcotic drug industry in his safe havens located in the outskirts of the city. Despite having no qualifications of a chemist, he learnt how to cook Meth (Methamphetamine) from his years of experience in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry.
As he was one of the counterparts of major drug cartels of South East Asia, the Meth cooked by Ramesh reached Singapore and Malaysia via Chennai. Since Meth is one of the most expensive drugs in the world, Ramesh became a millionaire in no time. When the Special Investigation Team of Cyberabad police busted his gang, they were trying to smuggle 13.5 kg Meth to Chennai. He had opened secret labs in the city outskirts, and with the help of a few aides, he became another “Walter White” of the popular series Breaking Bad.
“It was only after his arrest that we came to know that he owned properties worth crores. But we worked on it and closed all the loopholes before catching him,” said SOT inspector Narsing Rao, who led the operation. Ramesh is now in the custody of Cyberabad police, and Narcotics Control Bureau officials will soon take him into custody to find out his connections.
Hidden beneath the legal structure of Pharma-Chemical Industries in Hyderabad, lies the highly discreet narcotic industry run by people like Ramesh. Apart from Meth, they also manufacture synthetic psychotropic substances Ketamine, Ephedrine, Methaqualone and other varieties. The enforcement agencies realised the gravity of the issue only after busting Ramesh’s gang.
“There could be many more such gangs active in the city with secret labs on the outskirts. We are trying to understand the structure, and are preparing to bust a few more places,” said an SOT official.
Cyberabad police’s higher officials have said that it is an organised crime thriving in the outskirts. Cops suspect the gang may also be distributing the drugs in pubs and clubs in the city on special occasions like New Year’s Eve.
Drug use leads to depression, say doctors:
Doctors say the use of narcotic drugs results in symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations, delirium, and delusions. The addiction can cause anxiety, depression, suicide, and violent behaviour.
A person, who uses methamphetamine has the highest risk of contracting diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B and C. These can be contracted both by sharing contaminated drug injection equipment and through unsafe sex.
Once the user becomes addicted, he or she does not realise it. After a point, the frequency of use increases. When they are not on drugs or try to stop suddenly, they face acute withdrawal symptoms.
Users may show violent behaviour and even suicidal tendencies, peer pressure, wish to escape from depression, and emotional or physical abuse are the three main causes for addiction, said consultant psychiatrist Dr Purnima Nagaraja.
Machinery on hire to make drugs:
Local counterparts of international drug cartels gangs take reactors and machines on rent and operate out of temporary labs with raw materials imported from Mumbai, thereby avoiding surveillance by the authorities.
They target low-paid (and unethical) employees of chemical / pharmaceutical firms and offer them huge sums to make the banned drugs. Meanwhile surveillance by the Narcotics Control Bureau is weak and officials admit that unless they get a tip off, it’s difficult to track the illegal manufacturing.
Police officials meanwhile say that they can only raid places based on solid information. “Unless we have authentic information, we cannot carry out a raid. And the information gathering is tough since the structure of this nexus is complicated,” said an official from Cyberabad.
According to NCB officials, there are also gangs who take advantage of the ignorance of a firm’s owner to manufacture the drugs. “The gangs approach companies with their own chemist and formulas. They give contracts to produce the banned synthetic drugs and pay more money. Meanwhile the owner or workers of the company sometimes are not even aware that they are producing banned drugs,” said an NCB official from Hyderabad.
Gangs well connected to the Asian drug mafia have shifted their manufacturing bases to Hyderabad from Mumbai and Chennai, since enforcement agencies’ vigil is lesser here. They get raw materials and ingredients from Mumbai, and use the labs in Hyderabad. After the production, the drugs are sent to Chennai via road where they are exported to countries in Southeast Asia....