Drug Bust in Tol­ly­wood

Top per­son­al­i­ties from the Tel­ugu film in­dus­try in po­lice net

India Today - - STATES - By Amar­nath K. Menon

Abkari Bha­van, the head­quar­ters of Te­lan­gana’s pro­hi­bi­tion and ex­cise depart­ment, has been see­ing a num­ber of vis­i­tors from the Tel­ugu film in­dus­try. Ac­tors Tarun Ku­mar, P. Navdeep, Sub­baraju, Charmme Kaur and Mu­mait Khan, di­rec­tor Puri Jagannath, art di­rec­tor Dharma Rao and cin­e­matog­ra­pher Shyam K. Naidu were among those called in for ques­tion­ing and asked to sub­mit hair, fin­ger­nail and saliva sam­ples for foren­sic test­ing.

The sum­mons to the film folk fol­lowed the ar­rest of Calvin Mas­caren­has, a bank em­ployee-turneds­mall-time mu­si­cian, and two others on July 2. In­ves­ti­ga­tors say Mas­caren­has is the master­mind of a ne­far­i­ous nar­cotics net­work sup­ply­ing syn­thetic drugs, in­clud­ing LSD (ly­ser­gic acid di­ethy­lamide) and MMDA (methylene­dioxymetham­phetamine). More ar­rests have fol­lowed. The 17 per­sons de­tained so far in­clude Dundu Anish, a US na­tional and for­mer aerospace en­gi­neer at NASA, and seven IT pro­fes­sion­als from Hy­der­abad.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say Mas­caren­has is among a hand­ful of In­dian cus­tomers of Silk Road, a no­to­ri­ous e-mar­ket on which syn­thetic nar­cotics are traded in bulk. Dis­guised as medicines, the drugs are dis­trib­uted via in­ter­na­tional courier ser­vices as well as in parcels sent through

or­di­nary post. Mas­caren­has and his as­so­ciates, in turn, sup­plied smaller ped­dlers or di­rectly to cus­tomers. Ar­rested in 2013 for ped­dling mar­i­juana, Mas­caren­has al­legedly turned to sup­ply­ing LSD and MMDA in Hy­der­abad af­ter be­ing re­leased from jail in 2015.

But track­ing the net­work he used to pro­cure the drugs is prov­ing to be a ma­jor chal­lenge. It is not yet known from who the drugs are pro­cured or where they are shipped from. Or­ders are in­vari­ably com­mu­ni­cated via dark­net. While the po­lice have en­gaged pro­fes­sional hack­ers to trace the sup­ply chain, they have also asked the postal depart­ment and courier ser­vices to keep an eye on ship­ments from South Amer­ica and Europe.

Dr Akun Sab­har­wal, di­rec­tor (en­force­ment) in Te­lan­gana’s pro­hi­bi­tion and ex­cise depart­ment, says: “So far, we have gath­ered that at least 17 bars and pubs al­low drugs to be sold or used on their premises.” The charges, if proved in court, would mean stiff penal­ties— up to 20 years in jail and Rs 2 lakh


fine—for the bar own­ers.

The Te­lan­gana po­lice are go­ing through call records, in­clud­ing those of the ac­tors and other film per­son­al­i­ties called in for ques­tion­ing. Sources said the in­for­ma­tion gleaned from the phone records could lead to fresh raids on ped­dlers still on the loose and re­veal how rave party or­gan­is­ers, event man­agers and celebri­ties are driv­ing the de­mand for nar­cotics. On July 24, the po­lice nabbed a gang, in­clud­ing five Nige­ri­ans, deal­ing in nar­cotics and seized co­caine, brown sugar, am­phet­a­mine tablets and mar­i­juana worth ap­prox­i­mately Rs 10 lakh. The gang has been ac­tive for over two years and also found to be in­volved in hu­man traf­fick­ing.

NOW SHOW­ING Ac­tor Sub­baraju ap­pears be­fore Te­lan­gana ex­cise of­fi­cials in Hy­der­abad

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