ED conducts searches in Punjab drug trafficking case

ED conducts searches in Punjab drug trafficking case

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has conducted searches at multiple locations in connection with a major Punjab drug trafficking racket busted by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

On Tuesday, the agency searched 25 residential and commercial premises belonging to the main accused Akshay Kumar Chhabra and his associates in Punjab’s Ludhiana, Mohali, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Chandigarh, and Ganganagar (Rajasthan). It seized over ₹4.5 crore in cash, mobile phones, laptops and papers related to money trail and property transactions.

On the same day, 14 NCB officials bagged the Union Home Minister’s Special Operations Medal-2023 for being part of the team that busted the international drug syndicate in November 2022. The network runs from Ludhiana in Punjab and has its roots in Dubai, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

During the operation, the NCB had arrested 19 accused persons and unearthed two laboratories being used to process heroin in Ludhiana. Among those arrested were two Afghan heroin processing experts. The agency also seized about 40 kg of heroin and other articles.

The syndicate had been sourcing the crude heroin smuggled via sea route through Mundra in Gujarat and land route, including Attari port and the international border with Pakistan. The NCB identified the “hawala” network money payment channels and the group of shell firms to channel the drug money.

The agency had also identified 204 bank accounts and frozen 52 of them. They are now being probed by the ED to unearth the drug money trail.

The ED said a portion of the drug money was transferred to foreign-based raw heroin/morphine suppliers through the “hawala” channels. It was also used by Mr. Chhabra to buy movable or immovable properties in his name and that of his accomplices; or infused in their related entities by handing over the proceeds of crime in cash to the handler of shell entities. Fake sales invoices were raised to the entities and credits received from them, as alleged.

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