Deepak Sharma (IANS)-
In one of the biggest drug rackets unearthed by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) of US, the Indian connection has led to a former aide of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and a pharmaceutical company allegedly operating from India, where drugs like mandrax and ephedrine were being manufactured. The overarching investigation also involves husbands of two former Bollywood actresses, charged with international drug trafficking originating from Kenya.
The investigation report filed by DEA in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York on July 25, 2019, mentions the name of D-company aide Vicky Goswami, husband of Bollywood actress Mamta Kulkarni and Ali Punjani, ex-husband of another Bollywood star Kim Sharma.
Incidentally, Ali Punjani, escaped from Kenya to Mumbai where he was last spotted in Bandra’s Asian Heart Institute in the last week of August. The Mombasa (Kenya) police confirmed to IANS on phone that Punjani was wanted in a drug case. The Mombasa police is now approaching Interpol to detain Punjani in India.
The report of the DEA reveals that Vicky Goswami, a druglord working for the D-company in South Africa, later shifted his base to Kenya from where he smuggled huge quantities of mandrax, cocaine, hashish, heroine and ephedrine. He initially worked for the Ibrahim Akasha syndicate in Mombasa and later partnered with Ali Punjani, alleged drug kingpin and husband of Kim Sharma.
The report also mentions that Dawood aide Goswami, husband of Mamta Kulkarni, was sentenced by a Dubai court on charges of drug peddling. In 2013, after being released from jail, Goswami shifted base to Kenya where he came in contact with Ali Punjani. The report says Goswami also approached one Indian, Dr Bipin Panchal. In Mombasa a meeting was held between Dr Panchal and Goswami wherein Dr Panchal assured that he will arrange supply of ephedrine from a pharmaceutical company in India. The consignment would then be taken to Uganda where it would be turned into methamphetamine.
DEA sleuths revealed that when the Indian company, reportedly manufacturing ephedrine, was checked, it was shut down. The name of the company is not being mentioned in this report as IANS could not verify the names of its proprietors.
The report says that undercover agents of DEA launched a sting operation and recorded a drug deal with Goswami and Ibrahim Akasha. With evidence in hand, DEA got Goswami and members of the Akasha syndicate arrested in Mombasa who were later extradited to the US. Later Goswami turned an approver and spilled the beans on the kingpin of Akasha syndicate.
Goswami also revealed names of South African peddlers, many of them having close ties with Dawood Ibrahim gang. Meanwhile, Kenyan police is making efforts to approach Mumbai police through Interpol, to arrest Ali Punjani who was last reportedly undergoing surgery in a Mumbai hospital. A source in the Mumbai police said that as of now, Ali Punjani is not wanted in any case in Mumbai, therefore no legal action can be taken against him.