The arrested were identified as Sreemon, Mohammad Fabas and Shamna of Kozhikode, Aju alias Amal of Kasaragod and Mohammad Afsal of Ernakulam.
The extra vigil by the Excise Department in view of the festive season paid rich dividends when five persons, including a woman, was arrested in Kochi with 90gm of MDMA, a premium party drug, worth ₹1 crore in the open market in the early morning hours on Thursday.
The raid was conducted jointly by the Excise Anti-Narcotic Special Squad, the State Excise Enforcement Squad and Customs Preventive Unit, Kochi. Though two more persons, including a woman, were apprehended their arrests were yet to be recorded.
The seizure was made from a rented apartment in Vazhakala. The arrested were identified as Sreemon, Mohammad Fabas and Shamna of Kozhikode, Aju alias Amal of Kasaragod and Mohammad Afsal of Ernakulam.
Though a man and woman from Kasaragod and Ernakulam respectively were also taken into the custody, their arrests were yet to be recorded as their involvement in the case was yet to be confirmed.
The gang adopted a novel modus operandi, said excise officials. They used to travel as family along with ferocious dog breeds such as Rottweiler and Doberman ostensibly to evade inspection by law enforcement agencies at check points.
Three dogs were also detained during the search operation and the car they used to travel was confiscated as well. A tip-off received by the Excise and Customs Departments that huge quantity of high quality synthetic drugs is being smuggled in from Chennai for sale in Kerala led to the operation.
This sparked off joint search operations by the Customs and State Excise Special Enforcement Squad in various locations across Kochi city.
“The gang is suspected to have involved in the distribution of MDMA in not only Kochi but also in Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Wayanad and Kasargode districts. They travelled in groups pretending to be a family and often took the dogs with them as protection,” said N. Ashok Kumar, Deputy Excise Commissioner, Ernakulam.
The accused are suspected to have rented out other apartments in the city though it is yet to be confirmed.
A case has been registered under relevant sections of NDPS Act and a probe has been launched by a team led by N. Sankar, anti-narcotic special squad, Ernakulam. The accused will be presented before the court after legal and medical formalities.
The raid was conducted by excise circle inspector T. Anil Kumar, in-charge of State Excise Enforcement Squad, Aluva excise circle inspector G.Krishnakumar, customs preventive commissionerate Kochi superintendent Vivek V., customs preventive inspectors, Reymis Rahim, Shinumon Augustine and Lijin Kamal, civil excise officers Basant Kumar, Arun Kumar, Anoop and driver Sravan.
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