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Airport seizure yields drug base

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on Thursday opened the two parcels sent to fugitive Sang Niang Thanga to find a shipment of ephedrine hydrochloride.

Thanga had given the authorities the slip when they raided the first floor of former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) additional director Upen Biswas’ Salt Lake house on Monday. Three Myanmarese and two Chinese nationals had been arrested in the drug bust.

“The NCB officers arrived at the air-cargo section of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in the afternoon and seized the two parcels,’’ said airport director J. Kongari.

Bureau officials said the two parcels weighed about 300 kg. “They contained several hundred kg of ephedrine hydrochloride, a raw material to prepare amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS),’’ Bureau assistant director N.C. Patra said. According to Bureau estimates, the consignment is enough to produce ATS tablets worth “Rs 100 crore” in the international market.

In Shillong, meanwhile, Thanga’s wife Gloria Remi and brother Zoliang Thanga were interrogated by Customs officials. Commissioner of Customs Donald Ingti said they had been alerted by Interpol and the NCB on Wednesday evening.

Customs officials raided Thanga’s house at Lumbasuk, in Nongthymmai, early on Thursday and seized “incriminating travel documents”, including a few passports belonging to Thanga. Ingti said Thanga’s wife told interrogators that she just knew that her husband “was doing business with links all over the world”.

According to Ingti, Thanga’s claims of being a Mizo were not correct, adding that Customs officials had found documents that could prove both Thanga and his wife are Myanmarese nationals.

Back in Calcutta, Bureau officials have asked Upen Biswas to report to the zonal office on Shakespeare Sarani on Friday afternoon “to answer a few questions’’. Biswas confirmed having received the letter, but refused to confirm whether he would make the trip to the Bureau office.

The state Criminal Investigation Department (CID), meanwhile, filed a petition in Alipore court on Thursday, praying for special permission to interrogate the five foreigners arrested from the ground floor of Upen Biswas’ house on charges of drug peddling.

“We want to find out how they obtained the forged passport and unearth more details about the racket,’’ said additional director-general of CID Ranjit Mohanty.

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