Over 9 kg of lethal synthetic opioid, fentanyl, which is capable of killing 40 to 50 lakh people, was recovered from an illegal laboratory in Indore by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) last week.
The chemical, which can cause large-scale casualties if used in chemical warfare, was seized by the DRI, in a week-long joint operation with a team of scientists from Defence Research & Development Establishment (DRDE), a wing of DRDO.
The laboratory was being run by a local businessman and a “US-hating” PhD “scholar chemist.” The seizure has raised security concerns in Delhi as the chemical can cause large-scale casualties if used in chemical warfare, a scenario reminiscent of the plot in Alistair Maclean’s thriller “Satan Bug”. A Mexican national has also been arrested.
Three men, George Solis, a Mexican national, Dr Mohammad Sadiq and Manu Gupta were arrested on September 26 over charges of manufacturing fentanyl. They were arrested with some 11kg of the drug, which costs over Rs.110 crore in the illicit drugs market.
Fentanyl is a synthetic drug used as a painkiller in the medical world. It is considered 100 times more powerful than opium-based drugs. It is also highly popular among drug addicts and drug traffickers in China, Mexico, Canada and the US. According to police sources, fentanyl is sold in the US for $1.6 million per kg. In street language fentanyl is known by various names such as Apache, Tango Cash, China girl, Chinatown, Friend Fever, Great Beer and Murder.
Recently, the Mexican drug cartels have started using India as a base to manufacture the lethal drug, shifting operations from China where a crackdown has begun.
The first-of-its-kind case in India, has baffled scientists because it requires special kind of expertise to manufacture the drug which is available only to trained scientists. It is a controlled substance used with other medication for anesthesia and pain relief, the TOI reported.