As Odisha continues to earn infamy in the nation's narcotics map with the Udta Punjab way despite intensive crackdown by policing bodies, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has decided to pick five high-profile brown sugar seizure cases to go deep into them and discover any international connection or illegal financial transactions linked to the cases.
According to sources, the specialized financial investigation agency will reopen the files of Sheikh Hashim Bag, Sheikh Nasim, Debasish Behera, Loknath Behera and Sheikh Ashiq, arrested in connection with brown sugar trade.
On June 19, 2020, 4.5 kgs of brown sugar were seized from Rasulgarh area of Bhubaneswar. Along with mastermind Debasish Behera, three others were arrested in connection with the seizure. All the arrested were from Balasore district.
Similarly, brown sugar worth over Rs 2.5 crore was seized from two B.Tech students in Balasore district on March 20, 2020. Among them, Loknath Behera was the brain behind the trade.
On October 31, 2020, Sheikh Hashim Bag of Balasore was apprehended from Baramunda in Bhubaneswar along with his associates with brown sugar worth over Rs 1.5 crore.
Likewise, notorious drugs peddler Sheikh Nasim was arrested along with two others and brown sugar worth Rs four crore was seized from their possession on August 28, 2020. They were caught by the police red-handed while cracking a deal to sell the contraband in Bhubaneswar after procuring them from Murshidabad of West Bengal.
Moreover, a drug racket kingpin named Sheikh Ashiq was arrested on March 19, 2020.
Madhav Mishra, joint director of ED, Bhubaneswar Sub-Zonal and In-charge of Kolkata Zonal I & II, confirmed that the agency has taken up the five major drug seizure cases in the State.
The ED will probe the cases from all aspects like the spread of network of the arrested smugglers, procurement source of brown sugar, operation strategy and investment of the money earned from the trade. While the ED has issued summons to all the accused associated with the five drug cases, they will be taken on remand for further interrogation if needed.
Meanwhile, the rampant brown sugar trade has put the Twin City Police of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar on its toes. In the past five months, brown sugar worth Rs 7 crore has been seized from both the cities of the State Cuttack while 39 persons have been arrested.
“In the last six days, we have arrested 18 persons. The drive will be intensified in coming days. We have identified some peddlers. They will be arrested soon,” said Bhubaneswar Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Umashankar Dash.