Sleuths from the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) have seized 25 kg of pseudoephedrine from a 40-year-old man near the Nehru Indoor Stadium in Periamet here.
Following a tip off, Mugamath Mannan alias Mannan was picked up when he was moving with the consignment from a transport company on Wednesday.
Further investigations revealed that it had 25 kg of pseudoephedrine, which is a controlled substance in India. The seized drug is worth over `1 crore in the illegal market.
Sources said the consignment was sent through a transport operator from Mumbai. Preliminary investigations showed that the seized Pseudoephedrine was obtained for preparation of a stimulant drug Methaphetamine, commonly known as ‘meth’ or ‘crystal meth’ or “ice”.
He was booked under NDPS ACT, 1985 and remanded to judicial custody on Wednesday. Prem Anand Sinha, Zonal Director, NCB, Chennai, said they were proceeding with the investigations to find out the larger network behind the seizure.
On March 23, 2013, NCB busted a meth lab setup in a small village near Sivaganga from where they seized huge quantity of product worth several crores. Subsequently, they arrested five persons, including two Iranian nationals and a Chennaiite.
Sources said the nature of procurement of the raw material pseudoephedrine, which was also available over the counter, makes it virtually impossible for the enforcement agencies to keep a tab on it.
Pseudoephedrine is medicinally used to dilate the constricted blood vessels for people having nasal and sinus troubles.
According to enforcement agencies, the demand for meth had shot up in the domestic market and there were attempts to setup meth labs in non-descript villages and towns in the State.
However, the present seizure raises suspicion as to whether a meth lab was functioning in the city or elsewhere. The network could have set up labs abroad and it could come to light only during further investigations, an offiicial said.
Pseudoephedrine is found in small quantities in most cold medication. It is usually separated from prescription tablets
It is used to make crystal meth by mixing it with 32 chemicals including red phosphorus and hydriodic acid
Hydrogen chloride gas is bubbled through and the meth is reduced to form a stiff powder, from which pills are made
The last major bust was at Chennai airport in August ‘13 when NCB sleuths caught two men with 12.25 kg inside gym bags. It was headed to Kolkata and then to KL
Pseudoephedrine is sold in the international market at Rs 8 lakh a kilo, while meth costs three times as much. Inside India it is sold at Rs 75,000