Mohali (Punjab): Former international wrestler and Arjuna awardee Jagdish Bhola was on Wednesday convicted and sentenced by a special CBI court here in a multi-crore drugs racket, termed as Punjab's biggest, busted in 2013.
Bhola was sentenced to imprisonment for 12, 10 and two years in the three cases in which he was convicted earlier on Wednesday by the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Mohali, adjoining Chandigarh.
International drugs dealer Anoop Singh Kahlon and industrialist Jagjit Singh Chahal were also convicted.
Bhola had been a Deputy Superintendent of Police in Punjab Police but was dismissed from service in 2012 after his links with the drugs racket were revealed. He was arrested in November 2013 in connection with a Rs 700 crore drugs racket. Subsequent police action against the drug mafia led to the busting of a Rs 6,000 crore drugs racket.
The drugs racket was later investigated by the CBI while the Enforcement Directorate carried out a separate probe.
The multi-crore drugs racket became controversial in the last few years with the names of politicians, including ministers and legislators, industrialists and police officers being linked to the racket.
Bhola and other 49 accused were produced before the CBI court for the verdict in the case on Wednesday and several of them were convicted. There were 74 accused in the drugs case.
An international wrestler-turned-police officer-turned-drugs kingpin, Bhola was, however, acquitted in three other drugs cases against him. His lawyer said that they will challenge the conviction in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Bhola was a key figure in the drug network which was diverting chemicals meant for medicinal purposes to illegal factories in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh that manufactured synthetic drugs like 'Ice' and other party circuit drugs and was supplying them to the international market in Europe, Canada and United States.
The Punjab Police, in March 2013, had claimed that international boxers Ram Singh and Vijender Singh took heroin from Canada-based drug dealers Kahlon and Rocky for personal consumption between December 2012 and February 2013.
While Ram Singh was arrested by the Punjab Police in April 2013, Vijender Singh, who was an under-training DSP in Haryana Police at that time, was questioned in this regard. The police had alleged that Vijender Singh consumed heroin 12 times. He, however, got a clean chit in the matter later.
Money from the multi-billion rupee racket of synthetic drugs was used by those involved in the illegal trade to lavish lifestyle, including buying VIP registration numbers for high-end cars at government auctions. Chahal's pharmaceutical units in Himachal Pradesh's Baddi industrial township, 35 km from here, were raided by the police and precursor chemicals like ephedrine and pseudoephedrine worth Rs 925 crore in the international market were recovered.