India is believed to be one of the largest suppliers of Methamphetamine and Amphetamine to major drugs cartels operating in Central and South America, but producers here are largely dependent on foreign experts to prepare the drugs.
In both the laboratories busted by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) recently, the producers had hired chemical experts from foreign countries like Iran and China. The experts were highly-paid and the payment was made in dollars.
Six of those arrested at the laboratory in Asangaon were Iranian nationals. They had been invited for the job by Ghulam Azad, 54, also an Iranian. Azad has been in India for quite some time and he helped the lab owner Kisoor Nandan hire them.
The experts had arrived in India on tourist visa two weeks before their arrest on August 19. They stayed in a rented Oshiwara flat for a couple of days before shifting to the laboratory. They worked round-the-clock to synthesize and prepare the finished product as early as possible.
“Iranian experts hired for synthesization and processing Metamphetamine at the Asangaon laboratory is not an isolated case. According to our counterparts in other nations, Iranians are involved everywhere in the illegal production of the drug,’’ a senior NCB official said.
He added: “Other than this, Chinese experts are hired by illegal drugs manufacturers in India. In the Mira Road lab, which was owned by Jacob Madathil, a teacher, Chinese experts were involved in the synthesisation process. They are suspected to have left the country immediately after completing their job”.
According to officials, Madathil had set up the laboratory three months ago but had failed to prepare the perfect quality finished Metamphetamine or Meth. Then he got in touch with his contacts in South America and hired the Chinese experts for the job.
In 2008, NCB had busted a laboratory where drug worth crores were seized. Chinese nationals were involved in the production here. In an earlier raid on an illegal laboratory in West Bengal, Hong Kong nationals were found to be involved.
“The operation is easy as pharma-based drugs like ephedrine, a raw material used to make Meth, are easily available. One could also get drugs containing ephedrine like Actifed and Lorfast-D from open market. Ephedrine could be extracted from it and be synthesized to make Meth,” said a senior officer.