Kingpin of 532-kg Amritsar heroin haul arrested from Haryana

Last Updated : 09 May 2020, 14:06 IST
Last Updated : 09 May 2020, 14:06 IST

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The Punjab Police on Saturday arrested from neighbouring Haryana Ranjeet Singh Rana, an alleged drug smuggler who was wanted in connection with a 532-kg heroin haul from Attari last year, officials said.

He was arrested from a hideout in Haryana's Sirsa district, the police officials said.

Facing over 10 criminal cases, Rana alias Cheeta was one of the key links in the network engaged in smuggling a large number of consignments of drugs and illegal weapons through the Indo-Pak border, the police said.

Among other cases, Rana was wanted in the narcotics haul case in which the Customs department seized 532 kg of heroin worth Rs 2,700 crore on June 29, 2019 from 600 bags of rock salt at the Integrated Check Post in Amritsar's Attari.

Rana was said to be the kingpin of the narcotics haul.

"We have nabbed him (Ranjeet) from Sirsa," Punjab Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta told PTI.

His brother Gagandeep Singh was also arrested, the state police chief said.

Giving details of the operation, Gupta said he spoke to his Haryana counterpart Manoj Yadav around 9 pm on Friday. Thereafter, coordination was established by Amritsar police with Sirsa Superintendent of Police Arun Nehra.

A team of Amritsar police reached Sirsa at 3:30 am. The outer cordon of the area was laid jointly by Haryana and Punjab police, he said.

After not finding Rana at the first location, a Punjab Police team reached the second location, he said.

Gupta said after police knocked on the door, Rana slowly opened the door. As soon as he saw the police party, he tried to close the door and grab an axe lying near his bed. But the police kicked open the door and caught him.

His brother Gagandeep Singh, who was sleeping in another room, was also arrested, the officer added.

The arrest of Rana and his brother marks the first time the police have been able to unravel international drug networks on such a massive scale and expose a major racket of proceeds of narcotic trade being routed to terrorist outfits operating in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and other parts of the country, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said.

He recalled his promise to the people of Punjab that he would go after the "big fish" involved in the drug trade and save the youth of Punjab from the drug trap.

Rana's arrest comes after the state police recently nabbed Hizbul Mujahideen operatives in Amritsar.

The Punjab Police had last month arrested Hilal Ahmed Wagay, a close associate of slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo, the police said.

Later on May 5, Wagay's two accomplices -- Bikram Singh and Maninder Singh -- were arrested from Amritsar, they said.

Their interrogation revealed that Bikram and Maninder along with their cousins Rana, Iqbal Singh alias Shera and Sarwan Singh were dealing in drugs smuggled from across the border. Bikram had gone to deliver Rs 29 lakh of the drug money to Wagay on the instructions of Rana, Iqbal and Sarwan, DGP Gupta said in a statement here.

Bikram and Maninder told police about the activities of Rana and his brother, he said.

Further analysis of data along with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) led to the identification of Rana's Sirsa location. Subsequently, in coordination with the Haryana Police, the hideout was busted and he was arrested with his brother in the early hours of Saturday, the chief minister said in a statement.

Rana was one of the most active nodes of the extensive and common network of drug smugglers or couriers set up by Pakistan intelligence agency ISI to push composite consignments of drugs, weapons, fake currency from Pakistan into Punjab through various means, including drones, he said.

Published 09 May 2020, 14:03 IST

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