Money from international drug ring used to buy VIP car & cell numbers

vip numberMoney from a multi-million-dollar drug ring was used to fulfill a fancy and unusual wish – to lay hands on VIP numbers for high-end cars and mobile phones, an Indian police investigation has revealed.

Investigations by Punjab Police, who recently busted a major international drug racket worth nearly $300 million have revealed that key people involved in the drug trade were not only leading a flashy lifestyle but were using the money to buy personalized car registration numbers at government auctions.

A senior police officer of the Patiala, Punjab police said that Jagjit Singh Chahal, an industrialist who has been arrested along with international wrestler-turned-police officer-turned-drugs kingpin Jagdish Bhola, had a penchant for VIP numbers for his high-end vehicles and mobile phones.

“The verification of background of Jagjit Singh Chahal has revealed an opulent life style with a penchant for luxury cars having single digit numbers and single digit mobile numbers as well,” Punjab police officer, Hardayal Singh Mann told IANS.

Chahal in June last year picked up the ‘CH-01-AN-0001′ series registration number for nearly $30,000 at a government auction in Chandigarh.

Chahal, who claimed that he was an agriculturist-businessman, bought the number for his $142,001 Toyota Land Cruiser SUV.

Chahal and his family had claimed then that they had a liking for the number ’0001′. He also claimed that his family has “other vehicles in our fleet with the 0001 number”.
All those claims have now proven to be true in Punjab Police investigations.

The police have found that Chahal spent another nearly $25,000 to buy VIP numbers at government auctions in Punjab. The numbers were for high-end cares like a Range Rover Freelander SUV, Toyota Prado SUV, Hyundai Terracan SUV and a Honda Accord. He even bought a ’0001′ number for $835 for his Hero Honda motorcycle.

The police have recovered seven mobile phones from Chahal which also had VIP numbers (ending with 00001). He spent more than $5,500 on them.

Chahal’s pharmaceutical units were raided by the police in Baddi, Himachal Pradesh, 45 km from Chandigarh, over the past one week and precursor chemicals worth $150 million in the international market were recovered.

Mann said that police teams have recovered nearly one tonne of precursor chemicals like ephedrine, pseudoephedrine from the unit of MBP Pharmaceuticals Ltd., which is owned by Chahal. These were used to manufacture synthetic drugs like Ice and other party-circuit drugs.

Raids on the units were made following disclosures by Bhola and Chahal during their interrogation.

Punjab Police busted the racket in synthetic drugs worth almost $120 million in March this year.

The Patiala police arrested Bhola, the kingpin, and dismissed him as the Punjab Police deputy superintendent of police. Four of his accomplices were also arrested last week near the Haryana-Delhi border carrying drugs worth nearly $3.3 million.

The well-oiled drugs network, in which nationals of other countries and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) were also allegedly involved, was operating in India, Canada and European countries, including Britain.—IANS