Three Nigerian men and a Brazilian woman, who were allegedly carrying 6.492kg of cocaine, worth ?38.95 crore, concealed in the rings stitched on curtains for it to pass through the rod, were arrested from Andheri (West) Mumbai, on Sunday morning, February 10.
The men identified as Febia Onkonkwo, Simon Agbata, and Michel Hope, along with a Brazilian woman identified as Carla Pinto Iris, were arrested under various sections of the NDPS Act.
The seized drugs were supposed to be supplied to Johannesburg, South Africa and Auckland, New Zealand.
Police had got a tip-off that three Nigerian men and a Brazilian woman were carrying narcotics in their bags, but on intercepting them, they only found curtains in the bags.
“Our team grew suspicious on finding so many curtains,” said Manoj Kumar Sharma, additional commissioner of police, west region.
The team, headed by police inspector Daya Nayak, then started to check the curtains. On opening the rings, they found thin tubes containing white powder fitted around it. Each of the 78 curtains had eight rings carrying cocaine.
The police seized the substance and arrested the four accused – Niras Okhovo, 35, Simon Agobata, 32, Michael Hope, 29, and Brazilian national Karle Iris, 41 – who were on their way to meet a fifth accused, after which they were to send it via courier.
The woman, who was arrested in connection with a drugs case, was released from Byculla jail recently.
Police have also retrieved the machine which the accused used to roll the tubes. A raid at the Koparkhairane residence of the accused led the police to multiple passports, but none of them is in their names.
“The fifth accused is absconding. We will arrest him soon. We are also tracking the courier companies that sent the consignments in the international market. We are enquiring whether they have any role in it or not,” said Nayak.
A source said they suspect the cocaine was initially sourced from Afghanistan and was supplied to dealers in the international market.
Police said they will be able to ascertain the supplier after further interrogation of the accused. Sources said they have so far retrieved three courier receipts from the accused, two of which are to Johannesburg and one to Auckland. Police said one of their consignments recently reached South Africa, which will reach the destination soon.
“We were surprised upon recovering a number of curtains, curtain rings and rods from them. The drugs were being concealed inside the curtain rings and rods, and packed in small boxes to hide from agencies. We are also verifying if courier agencies are involved in the smuggling. As of now, probe has revealed that the accused has already supplied one consignment to South Africa” Manoj Kumar Sharma said,
“This seems to be a bigger international drug cartel and we are digging deeper to reach this gang. The involvement of some Indians cannot be denied,” he added.
All the accused were produced before the Bandra magistrate court and sent to police custody till February 16.