BENGALURU: The Central Crime Branch (CCB) on Wednesday arrested three men who had come to the city to sell cylinders which they claimed contained red mercury, the hoax substance that is purportedly used in nuclear bombs.
The men have been identified as Manigandan and Mohammed Haneef of Hosur, and Nagaraja of Hoskote. They were attempting to sell 8 pounds of ‘red mercury’ for `150 crore. They claimed that LTTE agents had transported the substance from Russia and that they had smuggled and sold it in India after LTTE chief V Prabhakaran’s death.
“We got information that some men were looking for buyers for red mercury, which they claimed could be used for nuclear attacks. We posed as buyers and approached them and they said they would give us a sample to check, at a cost of `5 lakh. When they came with the sample, we arrested them,” said Abhishek Goyal, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime).
The CCB officials took the aluminium cylinder which the trio claimed contained the red mercury to a lab to run tests. “We did not detect any radioactivity and so, we cut open the cylinder, only to find that it was empty,” Goyal said.
He added that the gang had cheated many people this way. “They would demand lakhs for the sample and then escape with the money, leaving the buyer with an empty cylinder.”
According to the police, during interrogation, the trio revealed that they got the idea from Jai Singh, a scrap dealer who had cheated them in a similar manner. The police are now on the lookout for Singh.
The police also seized the laptop in which the trio had made presentations on the effects of red mercury for prospective buyers. “The innovative methods that criminals use to cheat people and the number of people who fall for them, it’s unbelievable,” Goyal said.