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Shillong evangelist in drug net

Shillong, Aug. 20: An evangelist and research scholar associated with the Meghalaya Christ Church was arrested last night on charges of trading in heroin, sullying the reputation of the Christian clergy in this conservative state.

Police said 380 grams of high-grade heroin were seized from the evangelist, Yusi Hey Yobin, during a late-night raid on his residence in the Nongthymmai locality of Shillong. Three of his alleged accomplices — identified as Le Se Hey Ngwazah and Arun Kunongo from Laban and Raju Premji from Happy Valley — were also taken into custody by the team of customs and police sleuths.

Apart from being a popular preacher, Yobin is a research scholar in the philosophy department and Northeastern Biodiversity Research Cell of North Eastern Hill University.

Fugitive Myanmarese drug dealer and former Shillong resident Sang Niang Thanga, too, was a student of divinity before he found his calling in the lucrative narcotics trade. His cover was blown when sleuths raided his rented Calcutta residence, belonging to retired CBI officer Upen Biswas, in June and arrested five of his accomplices.

Like Thanga, who was the Chinese Ah Hua drug cartel’s main representative in India, Yobin is suspected to be part of a big drug network.

Additional customs commissioner G. Panmei told the media today that the heroin seized from the evangelist’s residence had been concealed in a briefcase. “Ngwazah, who is Yobin’s brother-in-law, tried to flee with the packet but we caught up with him,” he said.

Yobin and his alleged accomplices are likely to be booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985. “We are still at the interrogation stage, but if proved guilty, the accused could face rigorous imprisonment for at least 10 years,” Panmei said.

Assistant customs commissioner of the Shillong division, G.M. Kamei, said the seized packet of drugs had been sent to Guwahati for forensic tests.

“A preliminary test indicated that the drug is high-grade heroin.”

Yobin’s arrest has shocked everyone here, but none more than his friends at the university, who liked him for his “friendly and helpful nature”. B. Myrboh, co-ordinator of the Northeastern Biodiversity Research Cell, said: “What can I say' We are shocked and feel cheated by this person.”

Myrboh said the research cell had terminated his fellowship with immediate effect. Yobin was previously a fellow of the university’s folklore centre.

The arrested preacher admitted in front of newspersons that he had gone to Guwahati on July 28 along with Kunongo to fetch the packet of heroin. “We had gone to meet Patrick, who is a drug dealer from Myanmar and whom I have known for a few years. I introduced him to Kunongo,” he said.

On how he became involved in the narcotics trade, Yobin claimed he had never sold drugs. “I was not selling drugs. I was just trying to help Kunongo, who is poor.”

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