Thane: A Nigerian national has been arrested in connection with the multi-crore ephedrine haul case here, taking the total number of arrests to 12 so far, police said today.
Felix Oshita (34), was arrested on Wednesday by Thane Police's anti-narcotics cell from Navi Mumbai for allegedly smuggling ephedrine powder from a shipping company official to former Bollywood starlet Mamta Kulkarni's husband and alleged druglord Vicky Goswami in Kenya, they said.
Oshita's name was not in the FIR lodged by police in connection with the drug haul case in April this year. He was caught following revelations made by Sushil Kumar Assikannan, who was recently arrested from Bengaluru after being on the run since April when Thane police raided Avon Lifesciences in Solapur and seized around 18.5 tonne of ephedrine worth Rs 2000 crore.
Assikannan had during interrogation apparently informed the police that out of 180 kg ephedrine, he smuggled nearly 125 kg out of Avon Lifesciences premises in Solapur and gave it to Oshita, who then flew to Delhi and subsequently to Kenya.
Oshita took packs of 25 kg each while flying five times to Kenya and it is suspected that he handed it to Vicky Goswami's cartel in Tanzania for further processing it to manufacture methamphetamine, a police officer said. The Nigerian's arrest, according to police, is a major breakthrough in the case as it could reveal the transportation links also, the frequent travels to Kenya and the subsequent activities of the accused.
Besides the 12 arrested, the police have named alleged druglord Vicky Goswami and Mamta Kulkarni as wanted accused in the case. Among the arrested persons so far are a director and an operations manager of the Solapur-based firm.
Asikannan is suspected to have played role in transportation of ephedrine from Solapur unit of the factory to Mumbai and other parts of country and even overseas. As per police, ephedrine was being diverted from Avon Lifesciences to a Kenya-based drug cartel headed by Goswami where it was to be used to make party drug methamphetamine.