Rs 2,000-crore drug haul: To nail Vicky Goswami, Thane police to make ringleader approver

Police says Punit Sringi has in-depth knowledge of the racket and he could help prove the local ephedrine haul’s links with an international drug cartel

Punit Sringi, ringleader of the drug racket worth Rs 2,000 crore busted by the Thane police last month and director in-charge of the Solapur-based factory of Avon Life Science Limited — which manufactured the drugs, has agreed to turn approver in the case, a senior officer from the Thane police commissionerate has said.

Punit Sringi

An approver is an accomplice to a felony who confesses his guilt and gives evidence against his aides.

The move could help the police nail the role of Vicky Goswami, notorious drug lord operating out of Kenya and husband of former Bollywood actress Mamta Kulkarni, in the racket and prove the local ephedrine haul’s links with an international drug cartel.

Last week, the Thane police had revealed that around 100 kg of drugs was smuggled to Goswami in Kenya in the last three months and that ringleaders Jay Mukhi and Kishore Rathod — son of former MLA Bhavsingh Rathod — director of pharma company Avon Life Science Limited in Solapur Manoj Jain and two others allegedly met Goswami over 20 times since 2014 at Hotel Bliss in Kenya.

Offer to reduce charges
Sources said in the absence of conclusive evidence — all that are available are statements of those arrested in the case — to nail the kingpins of the racket, making Sringi an approver could help the police prove that drugs had been shipped from Gujarat to Kenya for years by an international drug cartel.

Police have offered to reduce the charges against Sringi for turning approver, they added.

The police officer said Jain and Sringi, in their statements, have revealed that Goswami was the kingpin of their racket. “Sringi was introduced to the drug smuggling business by Jain. He has in-depth knowledge of the racket and his statement as an approver will prove the international smuggling racket in court.”

Sringi was arrested on April 26.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat and Thane police, along with the US Drug Enforcement Administration — which is on Goswami’s trail, are still on the hunt for Mukhi and Rathod.

Punit Sringi pulled into racket to pay off debts
Punit Sringi, ringleader of the drug racket, ran an international trade of watches from China. Around two years ago, a huge loss led to bankruptcy and Sringi found himself unemployed. It was during this slump that his friend, Manoj Jain, introduced him to the world of drug smuggling. Hoping to pay off his loans, he took charge of the Solapur factory of Jain. The factory had been shut for over a year and was used solely to stock drugs. “Sringi scared factory workers away by claiming that the premises were haunted,” said a Thane police officer. “Sringi supplied the consignments to Harideep Singh Indarsingh, who claims that he only smuggled 180 kg of ephedrine to Gujarat.” Sringi also roped in several locals as drug peddlers.

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