Around 100 students from different international schools and engineering colleges here would be called as witnesses in the drugs racket that was busted here on 2 July, Sunday. They are among around 1,000 students who became customers to a gang of drug peddlers.
The Enforcement wing of Excise and Prohibition that arrested eight persons in the case in the last three days is banking on the evidence given by these students to catch the kingpin of the racket.
A drug peddlers’ gang led by Calvin Mascara has been found to be supplying LSD and MDMA drugs in the form of pills and liquid drops to hundreds of students from dozens of international schools and professional colleges, apart from others in the film and business sectors in Hyderabad. The gang is suspected to be importing drugs from the US and is being coordinated by some kingpin from Goa and Mumbai.
Like in the past when drug peddlers were arrested, this time too, the Enforcement cops are finding it difficult to get to the bottom of the case due to the lack of evidence against the accused. However, as the state and the Centre are keen on cracking down on drug rackets, this time the Telangana Enforcement wing is going to produce solid evidence to ensure conviction of the accused in the case.
Enforcement Director Akun Sabharwal, who announced the arrest of Calvin Mascara, the main accused, on Sunday, formed a special investigation team (SIT) comprising four excise and prohibition inspectors to probe the case. So far, seven more persons—Mohammad Abdul Waheed, Nikhil Reddy alias Bob, Ravi Kiran, Brendan Ben, Aman Naidu, Kundan Singh and Abdul Quddus—were arrested by the excise cops.
Mascara and his men were operating in a clandestine manner through over 100 WhatsApp groups which have the numbers of customers of drugs in the city. They procure drugs through couriers from abroad and Goa and supply the same to the customers based on their messages on phone. This gang meets the students outside the gates of schools and colleges, sources in the SIT told The Sunday Guardian.
A drug peddlers’ gang led by Calvin Mascara has been found to be supplying LSD and MDMA drugs to hundreds of students from dozens of international schools and professional colleges, apart from people in the film and business sectors in Hyderabad.
Mascara, a 29-year-old engineering dropout from Secunderabad, told the investigators that the gang gets its supplies through couriers of educational equipment, books and notebooks. They divide the LSD and MDMA into small pouches of 5 ml and 10 ml and sell at prices ranging from Rs 1,500 to Rs 3,000, depending on the client. The cops seized contraband worth Rs 30 lakh from the gang.
The Enforcement cops are treating the case at two levels. While the students aged below 18 years would be treated leniently, the adults who place regular orders with the gang would be dealt severely. “But we will call all the suspected student buyers of drugs and counsel them and will see to it that they don’t repeat the mistake of drug use,” an inspector with the SIT told this newspaper on Thursday.
The gang, which has been operating in the city for the past five years, follows a variety of ways to attract customers—right from sponsoring college fresher parties to arranging private parties and get-togethers. Sabharwal announced that most of the international schools where 12th standard is there are this gang’s prime targets.
Separate letters written by Sabharwal to the managements of 19 schools and 14 private engineering colleges in the city asking them to counsel the students whose names were found on the mobiles of the gang, has created a furore among the parents. Many school and college managements have also protested the leaking of their names in social media.
Later, Sabharwal assured them that the names of the students and the educational institutions won’t be revealed and that there won’t be any cases against the students who were found to be the customers of the drug peddlers. “We will treat the students as victims, not accused. But we will call some 100 of them as witnesses in the trial stage,” said a SIT inspector.
As far as the bigwigs in the film and business fields are concerned, the Enforcement cops are planning to go tough. So far, the cops have called two producers and three executives of the software industry for grilling in the case. However, none of them have admitted to have been in touch with either Mascara or his men, though their names and mobile numbers were found in the phones of the gang.