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India: $450m drug haul found in drinks factory

A map showing Udaipur and Mumbai in India

Officials say they have discovered one of India’s largest-ever drug hauls concealed in a fizzy drinks factory.

More than 20m tablets of the banned drug Mandrax, with an estimated street value of $450m (£365m), were seized in the western city of Udaipur in October.

Subhas Dudhani, a Bollywood producer, was arrested in Mumbai in connection with the find, an official told reporters.

It is believed the drugs were bound for South Africa and Mozambique.

Najib Shah, head of the central board of excise and customs, revealed the arrest on Wednesday in New Delhi.

Hunting

“The total consignment was about 23.5 metric tons with an international value of 3,000 crore (rupees) [1 crore equals 10 million],” Mr Shah said.

The pills – discovered hidden in a secret room – are the largest synthetic drugs haul Indian officials have ever intercepted, according to Mr Shah.

But they are still trying to track down other people involved in the operation.

A customs officer told AFP on condition of anonymity: “We are on the lookout for several people involved in the drug syndicate.”

The recreational drug, commonly known as M-Pills, buttons or smarties, is popular on the rave scene in parts of Africa and Asia.

But overdosing on Methaqualone, the chemical name of Mandrax, can be fatal or leave the user in a coma.


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