Indian sting busts up $130-million drug and money laundering ring with links to Canada

Published: January 30, 2013

VANCOUVER DESI

Crystal Meth

Punjab Police said they started tracking Raja Kandola after they busted a drug manufacturing unit in Jalandhar and seized about 50 kg of ephedrine and methametaphine last June. The two substances are mixed to produce crystal meth or ‘ice,’ pictured above. Nick Procaylo/PNG files

Indian police raided 15 locations in Punjab, Delhi and Chandigarh overnight as they tracked a massive drug and money laundering operation with links to Canada Wednesday.

No disclosures were being made by Enforcement Directorate officials but sources told IANS that the alleged money laundering could involve more than $130 million.

Many of the raids centred on properties of a Punjab drug lord, Raja Kandola, who is now lodged in Tihar jail following his arrest August last year. Raids were also conducted in Delhi’s Karol Bagh area, Paharganj, Sainik Farms, Gurgaon’s DLF colony, in Chandigarh and Punjab’s towns of Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Sunam, Garhshankar, Abohar, Samrala and Mohali, sources said.

Enforcement Directorate’s Assistant Director Niranjan Singh said his officers were probing connections between the India drug mafia and Non-resident Indians living overseas.

Kandola, a.k.a. Ranjit Singh, was operating a party-drug manufacturing operation in Punjab, real estate scams and an illegal immigration operation, police said after his arrest.

Originally from Haibowal village in Nawashahr district, Raja had been staying in Kandola village near Adampur in Jalandhar district, Punjab. Kandola then migrated to Canada, according to police in India.

Punjab state Special Narcotics Cell officials

Punjab state Special Narcotics Cell are seemingly always busy, as officials here pose with heroin, a handgun, and ammunition recovered in a seizure last summer Amritsar, India. Narindaer Nanu/AFP/Getty Images

Police said they started tracking Kandola after Punjab Police busted a drug manufacturing unit in Jalandhar and seized about 50 kg of ephedrine and methametaphine last June. The two substances are mixed to produce crystal meth or ‘ice’ — a party drug that’s popular among youth. However, the kingpin of the drug cartel, Kandola, managed to escape, according to the South Asian Post. He was rearrested a few months later.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (special cell) Sanjeev Yadav said the Kandola gang was active in Canada, New Zealand and several other countries.

Information gathered by the police from Kandola aides, who were arrested a few months ago, revealed that Kandola had a well-knit network of people for producing the drug supply across international borders.

He had been using top models and good-looking young women fluent in English as couriers to send and receive drug consignments, one paper said.

Several Kandolas’ have been linked to drug cases in the Greater Vancouver area but it could not be confirmed by press time if they were connected to the operations of Raja Kandola.

Among them are Baljinder Singh Kandola, a former Canadian border guard who has been convicted for his part in a conspiracy that saw him wave vehicles through the border that were importing cocaine and guns into Canada from Washington state.

Earlier, drug dealer Robbie Kandola was sprayed with bullets by killers waiting for him as he got out of a cab in front of his Coal Harbour apartment in Vancouver.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in an analytical report say drug seizures originating in India have increased dramatically, becoming the No. 1 source/transit country to Canada.

Various methods are used to import heroin into Canada. such as postal and courier modes, air transport as well as by land via commercial or traffic vehicles. Particularly in the case of air passengers, an array of concealment methods are utilized to smuggle heroin that range from individuals swallowing the drug to modified suitcases, picture frames, rolling pins, statues and even hiding the heroin in a baby’s diaper bag.

India has also emerged as a source country for ketamine and other party drugs smuggled into Canada.

Heroin at Vancouver airport

Various methods are used to import heroin into Canada. Particularly in the case of air passengers, an array of concealment methods are utilized, including smuggling them in modified suitcases, as pictured above. Submitted photo/RCMP files

The RCMP report also identified Indo-Canadian criminal groups as high-level transporters of synthetic drugs and precursor chemicals from Canada to the U.S.

With an annual turnover of around $500 billion US dollars, drug trafficking is the third largest business in the world, next only to petroleum and arms trade.

Narcotics agencies say India, wedged between two major drug-producing regions, the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent, is a major transit point for drug smuggling to the West, where returns are lucrative.

– with IANS and agencies

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