The Customs Department, on Friday, busted a massive drug operation in Bengaluru and seized 475 kg of ephedrine worth Rs. 24 crore.
The department received intelligence reports that ephedrine was being smuggled to Malaysia from the Kempegowda International Airport, following which officials intercepted the stash at the Air Cargo Complex and found two bags of ephedrine weighing 50kg, the Times of India reported.
According to Additional Commissioner of Customs, D Anil, the two bags were being smuggled along with a consignment of 81 bags, which were declared as ammonium chloride. Officials estimated the cost of the seized drugs to be Rs 2.5 crore.
However, after the bust at the Bengaluru airport, the Central Intelligence Unit of the Customs Department, with the help of the driver who bought the consignment to the airport, raided a godown in Bengaluruâ€™s Kothanur and found 475 kg of ephedrine.
The drugs were packed in 17 gunny bags and the total seizure is valued at Rs. 24 crore. According to Customs officials, this is the biggest drug bust in Karnataka.
Customs sleuths are now looking out for the tenant of the godown as the owner has already shared the rental agreement with the officials.
Ephedrine is used as medication to prevent low blood pressure during spinal anesthesia and is regulated by the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985. The contravention of its usage will result in a jail term of 10 years.
According to D Anil, the drug comes in the form of white powder and has recently become popular among drug users as a replacement for meth and MD after the massive crackdown of these two substances across South and South East Asia.
â€śWith some chemical changes, the substance produces the same effect as meth. It goes with the street name ice and became popular less than a year ago,â€ť a customs official told TOI.
D Anil also said that Bengaluru is being used as a transit point to smuggle drugs to other Asian countries.
According to the TOI report, intelligence inputs about ephedrine have actually increased in the past 10 months in Bengaluru.
The department had, in May, seized ephedrine, which was being smuggled in file covers. The drug was concealed inside the rexin of thick file covers.
In December, 25kg ephedrine worth more than Rs 1 crore was seized.