Barasat, Aug. 7: Seventeen persons, including two women, have been arrested and a cache of drugs worth about Rs 1.5 crore recovered from a hotel here.
All the arrested 17 were said to be from Uttar Pradesh and the haul included heroin and brown sugar. With the arrests, the police claimed to have busted an inter-state racket that supplied drugs across Bengal.
Inspector-general of police (headquarters) Narayan Ghosh said a team of sleuths raided the hotel adjacent to Barasat station last night.
Ten people lodged in four rooms of the hotel were arrested. Raids continued across the town in North 24-Parganas through the night.
Sources said the intelligence department had tipped off the police about the presence of an inter-state gang in Barasat. The police acted on the information and zeroed in on the hotel. But the final operation had to be held in abeyance till late last night as the hotel was located in the heart of a busy market.
The main entrance to the hotel was locked from inside when the sleuths arrived at 1.30 am today. The hotel employees were instructed to open the gate. “But they requested us not to conduct a raid as that may irk the boarders. We had to break open the gate and arrest the suspected inmates. They were the only ones present there,” said Basudev Bag, the district superintendent of police.
Seven more persons were later picked up from various places. The police said Bhura Lal, 32, was the leader of the gang. “He is a resident of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. There are a few others associated with the gang as well. We are yet to find if they had planned anything bigger or are associated with any terrorist activities,” said and official.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the group was also part of an inter-state flesh trade racket. It allegedly smuggled Bangladeshi girls into the state and then send them across the country.
“The local contact of the gang Babul Patra, a resident of Barasat, has confessed his involvement in the racket. We are also looking for Rana Bose and Sanjay Das, the owners of the hotel who are absconding” said an intelligence official.
Residents said: “There are six hotels in the area and flesh-trade rackets operate from all of them.