The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of West Bengal was surprised to find 1.9 kg of amphetamine tablets — a banned party drug — in a closed factory in the district of Murshidabad on July 4, four days after five Chinese nationals were arrested from Kolkata with almost 200 kg of the same narcotic.

As much as 197 kg of amphetamine tablets with a street value of almost Rs 40 crore, were seized from five Chinese nationals arrested around midnight on June 29 from a railway station in Kolkata. On July 4, a CID team raided the factory in Murshidabad district from where they had seized another 1.9 kg of amphetamine tablets which are widely used as a party drug in South East Asia.

Among the possibilities that the sleuths are exploring after Wednesday’s raid of the factory are whether amphetamine tablets were made in the factory, whether the 197 kg that was seized on June 29 were also made there and shifted somewhere else before the factory in Nawada, 220 km north of Kolkata was closed a year ago.

Surprisingly, despite the CID raiding the factory, they refused to say whether it was a pharmaceutical factory or something else or who owned it. Given the involvement of Chinese nationals, the CID is treading cautiously. Even locals seem unaware what the factory was supposed to produce. So far, no locals seem to be involved in the racket.

According to a CID statement, “…different Chinese medicines, one syringe pump, one grinding machine” were also found during the raid. “Information reveals these Chinese used to stay/visit off and on there.”

Those arrested by Government Railway Police from Kolkata Station were identified as Wang Xiao Dong, Xue Yonghui, Li Cheng, Cheng Hao, Liu Baoxian. They are aged between 30 and 37 years. “While Dong could speak English to an extent, the rest can only speak some Chinese provincial language,” CID officers said.

Apart from 197 kg of amphetamine tablets, mobile phones, a laptop computer and about Rs 26,000 some Chinese currency and seven railway tickets from Beldanga (in Murshidabad district) to Kolkata were found in their possession.

“I have not heard of such a big consignment of narcotics being seized from anywhere in the country recently.

These people were carrying six bags, all stuffed with foils containing the tablets,” said Asesh Biswas, superintendent of railway police, Sealdah GRP on June 30.

A court sent them to 14 days of police remand on June 30. They were booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985.

“Wang and Xue came to Kolkata from Hong Kong on June 23. The other three accused who were already in India, met them there,” said the CID statement.

The agency is not ruling out more arrests. “Intelligence regarding local contacts of those arrested and their stay in India are being collected. Analysis of mobile phones and laptop computer seized from them are being conducted,” said the statement.

Locals said every night huge quantity of jute sticks were brought to the factory around which the Chinese maintained a lot of secrecy. They had the impression that some kind of charcoal was prepared in the unit.

“The security guards of the factory didn’t allow us to stand in front of the factory, or peep inside,” said Saibur Rahaman, a local.

Takiruddin Mondal, another local, said, “Some youths used to work in the unit, but some of the rooms were closed and they did not know what happened inside. We have seen several Chinese nationals coming to the factory.”

Over the past few months various agencies such as Narcotics Control Bureau and Kolkata Police have busted quite a few drug rackets in the city and arrested several persons including students of engineering and management institutes, who, they allege, became peddlers.

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