Flaunting Wealth

Published: 02nd February 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st February 2014 06:11 PM   |  A+A-

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Drug lord Jagdish Bhola’s accomplices, Maninder Singh Bittu alias Aulakh and Jagjit Singh Chahal, were well-known for their extravagant lifestyles.

Chahal had a penchant for luxury cars with fancy number plates (0001), ditto for telephone numbers (ending with 0001). He spent `25 lakh to buy the 0001 registration number for his vehicles, including `17 lakh for a Chandigarh series number (CH-01 0001) for his Land Cruiser and `4.7 lakh for PB-10 0001 for his Hyundai Terracan.

Aulakh visited Pakistan in 2004 to watch an India-Pakistan cricket match. Bhola, too, spent lavishly on SUVs and even funded Bollywood films.

Other Hauls

Seizure of narcotics and contraband in Mumbai was highest in 2012 when 543 cases were registered, 2,672 arrests made and 731 kg of contraband worth `14.51 crore seized. After that, 16kg of ephedrine, valued at `3.20 crore, was seized at Mumbai airport in December, 2013. Director of Revenue Intelligence seized 1.2 tonnes of banned ketamine, worth over `118 crore in the international market, from an illegal drug manufacturing unit in Jalgaon in north Maharashtra and six were arrested.

In December 2013, the Special Cell of Delhi Police seized 47kg heroin and two kg cocaine, valued at `150 crore in the international market and arrested four persons. The alleged kingpin was one Ali, who operates from Kuwait. The drugs were pushed into India through Punjab via Pakistan and subsequently smuggled into Sri Lanka and other Southeast Asian countries. Delhi Police in November, 2013 also seized some 400 grams of MDMA, a drug used in rave parties and valued at `1 crore globally, and arrested a 32-year-old Nigerian. In 2013, Visakhapatnam Police seized 11,051 kg of ganja worth `4.93 crore and arrested as many as 300 people.

Cultivating Danger

According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, opium cultivation in Afghanistan touched a record high in 2013.

  • 209,000 hectares Cultivation in 2012
  • 193,000 hectares cultivation in 2007
  • 36 per cent increase in cultivation over 2012.

Moreover, two provinces that had previously been declared poppy-free, Faryab and Balkh in northern Afghanistan, lost this status. All in all, opium production in 2013 went up to 5,500 tonnes, a 49 per cent increase over 2012.

  • 25.5 kg a month Heroin haul in Punjab
  • 21 teams created by Punjab cops to check drug trade
  • Rs 20,000 crore Value of narcotics trade
  • Rs 1,648 crore Worth synthetic party drugs seized by Punjab Police so far this year, indicating high demand.

Age of Ice

Ice and base are methamphetamine, part of the amphetamine family of drugs which also includes speed. The difference between ice, base and speed is that ice is the most pure form, followed by base then speed. Ice is known by a variety of names—crystal meth, meth, crystal, shabu, batu, d-meth, tina and glass. The addictive synthetic drug made in laboratories from pharmaceutical drugs mixed with toxic chemicals like red phosphorus or acid.

Canada Connect

Four Canada-based individuals of Punjab origin are being investigated for helping Jagdish Bhola.  Dara Singh Mathoda, promoter of Azadi Kabaddi Club based in Vancouver, former kabaddi player Sarabjit Singh alias Nick, who lives in Delta (British Columbia), Nirankara Singh Dhillon from Brampton (Ontario) and Harbans Sidhu of Toronto are those under watch. Information about them was shared with the Police Liaison Officer at the Canadian High Commission in Delhi, by the Punjab Police in a meeting chaired by Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence), Hardeep Singh Dhillon.

Key Players

1.jpgWrestler Jagdish Bhola (40) was recruited by Punjab Police in 1993 and promoted as inspector for his sporting prowess that fetched him the Arjuna Award in 1997. He was first booked for smuggling in 2001, declared a proclaimed offender and dismissed from service. He then got involved in a fake US visa racket and is said to have invested his ill-gotten wealth in Bollywood and a hotel business.

A resident of Preet Lari village in Amritsar, Maninder Singh Bittu (37) is a hotelier and owns Sanjog Hotel on Court Road, Amritsar. He started his political career with the Congress and later became an election agent of an Akali MLA during the 2012 Assembly polls.

Jagjit Singh Chahal (42), a resident of Ramana Chuck, Baba Bakala, Amritsar, holds a diploma in homoeopathy. He has multiple business interests, from tyre manufacturing to pharmaceuticals. He owned three units manufacturing precursor chemicals ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, which were diverted illegally from the medicine sector to manufacture synthetic drugs.

Former cop Anup Singh Kahlon joined the force in 1993 and later migrated to Canada where he owns chain of departmental stores. Earlier, he survived doing odd jobs.

Ranjit Singh Kandola was arrested by Delhi Police in August last year in a `278-crore drug haul case. The drug racket had been busted by the Punjab Police in June 2012, but Kandola had escaped. Police recovered chemicals used in synthesising drugs from his associates.

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