Pune now a hub for cocaine trade, say cops

Investigators believe that Pune has emerged as an important centre for international drug mafia, particularly for cocaine trade. The city is also witnessing a surge in the number of persons consuming cocaine, known to be a drug taken by the 'elite class' and foreigners, said police.

Several foreigners in the city, particularly those from Nigeria, are believed to be linked to the international cocaine trade. Pune police have identified as many as seven foreign nationals, all from Nigeria, in connection with cocaine trade in the city. While two of them were arrested, five others were deported in the last 15 days.

The anti-terrorist cell of Pune police Crime Branch, led by inspector Suhad Nadgauda, arrested Nigerian Nonso alias Soso Honah (25) of Wanavdi and city youth Ajit Singh alias Bob (29) of Dhanowrie and recovered from their possession 39 grams cocaine and Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) worth over Rs 4 lakh on November 26. Four Nigerian nationals from the city who were held in this connection were later deported by the Pune police.

On December 7, the anti-narcotics cell team, led by inspector Sunil Tambe, arrested Nigerian E O Nicolas (28) from Kondhwa and recovered cocaine worth Rs 32,000 from his possession. His Nigerian accomplice staying in Pune was identified and deported.

In March-April this year, a police team, led by inspector Balkrishna Kutwal and assistant inspector Arvind Gokule, had arrested two college students from Kondhwa along with Nigerian Gabriel for cocaine trade.

Investigations revealed that all the Nigerian suspects had links with drug peddlers in Goa. Police had seized 400 grams of cocaine worth Rs 10 lakh from college students in Kondhwa in March 2012. They brought the drug consignment from Gabriel in Goa.

"Our investigation revealed that Nigerians have developed a strong network in Goa that has a large base of foreign tourists. They come to India on business or student visa, but stay over purposely. After cases of over-staying are filed against them, they keep fighting the cases in court and till then continue with their drug trade. They also manage to get SIM cards for communication which are issued in the name of Indian citizens. We arrested Gabriel in Goa after a major search operation, but it was not easy to trace further links," said assistant inspector Gokule.

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