The Mumbai Anti Narcotics Cell (ANC) recently caught masterminds of the alleged drug racket earlier this month. New details now reveal that the accused would hold interviews of potential women couriers under 30 years of age who were in dire need of money.
According to reports, the accused had 'interviewed' as many as 25 women.
"The couriers had to be under 30 years of age, educated, well-versed in English and comfortable with western wear. Tabassum would look for such women, preferably unemployed and in urgent need of money, and after convincing them to do the job, would take them to meet Ali," an ANC officer said.
"The interviews would happen at random locations in Mumbai or other cities and only those who made the cut were exposed to the next level of the racket," the ANC officer was quoted by The Hindu.
Each of the women couriers was offered up to Rs. 70,000 for a single trip, said the officer. The expense included handing over the smuggled drugs to people working for Ali's brother in Dubai, and return with gold concealed on their person.
"To deflect suspicion, the accused would hide the drugs in cartons of toys or boxes of sweets preferred by children. The cover story would be that of a woman visiting her relatives in Doha and taking gifts for the children in the family. The same women would bring back small, thin plates of gold concealed either under their waist belts or in the form of jewellery in their luggage," the officer said.
The ANC had arrested Furkana Sheikh (27), a resident from Kurla earlier this month who was allegedly trying to smuggle 464 grams of amphetamine on board a Qatar Airways flight. After interrogating her, the police arrested Tabassum Sheikh and Rashid Faras from Mumbai and Rashid Mulla and Mustakim Ali from Kerala.
According to the sources from ANC, Tabassum was given the task of finding couriers willing to take drugs to Doha, where Ali's brother operates the other end of the racket, and was given clear parameters.
The ANC is working on finding out how many of them worked as couriers for them and is also investigating the gang's alleged involvement in hawala rackets, officers said.