In a major crackdown against a drugs syndicate, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has arrested nine members of a module, including its kingpin, and busted a cartel smuggling contraband to India from Pakistan, officers said.
Investigators told The Indian Express that the team was shocked to find two heroin processing units operating in the industrial city of Punjab, besides learning of the meteoric rise in the main accused’s finances. Till December 9, the NCB has seized 29.268 kg of heroin, 5.470 kg of morphine, 0.557 kg of opium, 23.645 kg of a suspected narcotics powder, four bottles of HCL, one bottle of acetic anhydride, 31 live bullets and one magazine as part of the case.
“The investigations revealed that the main accused Akshay Chhabra, a resident of Ludhiana, had 20 properties, including a disco which he operated on lease in Chandigarh and a restaurant in Zirakpur, apart from a rice mill in Ludhiana and investment in liquor business,” said the official, adding that the restaurant has been sealed. Chhabra acquired a majority of the properties in a year’s time, the official added.
The matter came to light after the Chandigarh Zonal Unit of the NCB apprehended one Sandeep Singh alias Deepu from Ludhiana on November 15 with 20.326 kg of heroin, following a tip-off. Subsequent investigations led the unit to uncover two heroin processing units in Ludhiana, and it seized more caches of heroin, besides other illicit drugs.
The NCB made major arrests in the case on November 24, when it nabbed the “kingpin” of the syndicate Chhabra, along with another accused Gaurav Gora alias Ajay Kumar from Jaipur International Airport. The two were trying to flee to Sharjah in the UAE, an investigator told The Indian Express.
Aged around 32 years, Chhabra earlier worked at a chemist’s shop and came in touch with a notorious drug smuggler, who was shot dead in 2019 in a targeted killing. An investigator said several years ago, Chhabra’s parents sold edibles on the roadside. “At that very place, he went on to build highrises, almost like in a typical Bollywood movie,” said the officer.
The others arrested include those involved in facilitating the sale of the drugs, handling finances and those involved in a hawala racket, the official added.