Mumbai hooch tragedy: Dealer ran out of ethanol, used methanol

Crime Branch officials said investigations have revealed that a day before the hooch tragedy, the prime accused, Francis D’Mello, made the killer brew using just methanol and water as he had run out of ethanol; methanol was supplied to him at Rs 27,000 a drum and he used to mix it with ethanol to make spurious liquor

The Mumbai Crime Branch said yesterday that Francis D’Mello used to mix ethanol and methanol to make spurious liquor and had, a day before the June 18 hooch tragedy, used just methanol and water to make his concoction because he had run out of ethanol.

Francis D’Mello with a bottle of premium scotch. File pic
Francis D’Mello with a bottle of premium scotch. File pic

This, said officials, led to the killer brew which has claimed 106 lives so far. While methanol, which is the simplest form of alcohol, is closely related to ethanol the type of alcohol normally found in beer, wine and spirits it is much more toxic and its consumption can prove fatal.

Crime Branch officials said D’Mello, who is the prime accused in the case, used to buy both ethanol and methanol the latter at Rs 27,000 for a drum from Mansoor Khan alias Atik, who was arrested from Delhi on Tuesday and was remanded in police custody till July 3.

“We have recorded the statements of 103 people, including parents and relatives of the accused, to find out how the suspects were selling the methanol in the area,” said a Crime Branch official, adding that Atik used to supply both the chemicals to D’Mello.

Family business
Officials said Mansoor bought methanol from four places in Gujarat and used to import ethanol from Karnataka and Aurangabad in Maharashtra. They said the ethanol was allegedly sourced in black from suppliers who provide it for mixing in petrol, and that teams will go to both places to trace the source.

The Crime Branch said Atik’s father, Latif, was also in the illicit liquor business and he used to bring methanol from Gujarat. Atik used to visit Gujarat with Latif and took over the business after the latter died in 2009.

The Crime Branch will send a team to Gujarat as they have learnt that Atik used to purchase methanol from Vapi, Navsari, Ahmedabad and Silvasa and then bring it to Mumbai in tempos with the help of Irfan, a transporter, who is also being questioned. “Khan bought methanol at Rs 18,000 for each drum and sold it to Francis for Rs 27,000 per drum,” said a Crime Branch officer.

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