Kingpin of drug cartel Lalit Patil and the mastermind behind his narcotics production operation Arvindkumar Lohare alias ‘doctor’ chalked out the plan to set up their Nashik- based Mephedrone manufacturing unit at the most unexpected place — the infirmary or hospital ward of the Yerawada Central Prison. This is where Patil strategically kept coming, allegedly feigning various medical issues, revealed the probe conducted by the Pune police.
The crime branch of the Pune City police launched a probe into the large-scale Mephedrone manufacturing and smuggling operation led by Patil (34) and Lohare (39). The investigation kicked off after the Anti Narcotics Cell of Pune City police seized mephedrone worth Rs 2.14 crore near the state-run Sassoon General Hospital on September 30.
Lohare and Patil were lodged in Yerawada Central Prison under judicial custody, following their arrest in December 2020 in a case pertaining to the seizure of 20kg mephedrone.
A senior officer, who is part of the probe, said, “Probe revealed that Lohare gave Patil the formula and the entire method of synthesis of mephedrone during their stay in Yerawada prison. The two are alleged to have passed on the instructions of setting up the manufacturing unit in Shindegaon village in Nashik to the other accused in the case – Lalit’s brother Bhushan and his aide Abhishek Balkawade.”
Investigation has revealed that Patil and Lohare had these meetings in the Yerawada prison’s infirmary, the hospital ward within Yerawada prison, between December 2020 and late 2021. It was during these meetings that the plan to set up the factory was hatched. “During his judicial custody in Yerawada Central prison, Patil had been admitted to the prison infirmary several times, which we believe he did by feigning various medical problems. It was this factory in Shindegaon that the Mumbai police raided in October this year and seized mephedrone worth Rs 300 crore,” said the officer.
The infirmary of Yerawada prison has an OPD and can admit around 35 inmates in the in-patient department (IPD). A police officer said an inmate admitted to IPD can easily meet any other inmate coming to the OPD since a large number of inmates gather at the prison hospital for various medical reasons. Patil and Lohare, who were otherwise lodged in different cells, allegedly took advantage of this overcrowding and held their meetings in the infirmary, without attracting much attention.