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Multinational probe on radar for drug haul

Calcutta, May 25: The drug haul from the rented ground-floor flat of former CBI official Upen Biswas’ residence is likely to result in a multinational multi-agency probe in Delhi.

An officer from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will arrive in New Delhi from Beijing next week to piece together the investigations on Sang Niang Thanga’s drug-running operations, Narcotics Control Bureau director-general M.K. Singh said today.

He added that the bureau was in constant touch with the agency handling drug-enforcement in Thailand to trace the man who, till the other day, was the former Central Bureau of Investigation additional director’s tenant.

With the story getting murkier — Singh said Thanga could even be a Chinese citizen — officials said other agencies had to be involved. They said NCB deputy director-general (enforcement) A.P. Kala returned from Bangkok on Friday after attending a meeting to prepare a draft on the bilateral agreement on joint investigations to bust drug-runners.

“The Ah Hua drug-running cartel (to which Thanga belongs) operates in six countries and it is essential that internal security agencies of these countries have a bilateral agreement on joint investigations,” an official said.

“There is no proper documented proof of Thanga’s citizenship but members of the cartel arrested in Beijing and New York have indicated during interrogation that he is a Chinese citizen,” Singh said over phone from Delhi.

NCB officials said they had found clues that Thanga had rented “a couple of other places in the city” to set up a factory to manufacture amphetamine-type stimulant tablets (ATS). “We have not yet been able to trace the houses but our detectives are on the job,” a senior official said. Quoting from preliminary investigations, Singh said sleuths were working on information to track down “a few local contacts of Thanga”.

NCB officials said Mathani, a Mizoram Emporium staffer detained for interrogation, told sleuths that Thanga had insisted on renting Biswas’ house from an option of five other houses in Salt Lake. “She told us that Thanga was desperate to rent the ground floor of that particular house and that is why he had asked for her help — and the services of Mizoram House casual employee Lalawizauva — to convince the former CBI officer,” an NCB official said.

NCB officials, acting on a tip-off from the US and China after the arrest of the Ah Hua cartel members, raided the ground floor of Biswas’ CG-22 Salt Lake residence on May 19. Five Myanmarese and Chinese nationals were arrested and 24 kg of ephedrine hydrochloride, material that could be used to manufacture ATS tablets worth crores of rupees in the international market, seized.

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