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ncb: Darknet drug cartel bust: Identities encrypted, NCB cracks them in 4 months | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: When the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) kicked off its probe, it was facing a real-life Breaking Bad situation with its suspects being entities like WalterWhite, JessePinkman and Heisenberg. When the NCB nabbed a few of the suspects, they thought the road ahead was easy with the arrested disclosing the identity and whereabouts of the other suspects. However, nobody knew anybody else’s real identity in the group because they met on the Darknet through encrypted identities.
It took the agency four months to uncover and track down entities like AuntieMaria, Theoptimusprime, Trippylanes, ShoppersStop, Guruji, Masalacoke and others from different states. The cartel operated in unique ways. The drugs were advertised as a restaurant menu with attractive offers for consumers. Escrow deals were offered to win the confidence of the buyers.
“Apart from using pseudonyms, the gang had single-use crypto wallets and advertised new stuff only in closed groups on Telegram and Wickr Me app,” said Gyaneshwar Singh, deputy director-general (NCB). Their phones were customised for Darknet use and equipped with a custom operating system that hid IP address and identities. Payments for drug deliveries were through PayTM, cryptocurrencies, UPI transfer and other modes.
“A computer professional controlled the supply chain and provided technical assistance about VPN usage and applications like Wickr and Telegram,” said Singh. “Group members also educated other members on ways to dodge NCB and obscure evidence.”
NCB seized 44 drug parcels at the Foreign Post Office in Kolkata and arrested a woman named Tareena Bhatnagar. The receiver, Sarbothaman Guhan, was nabbed at Delhi airport. Following this, NCB arrested sportsman Rahul Mishra in Faridabad and Ashray Pandey in Gurgaon with marijuana. They realised Guhan was known as AuntieMaria on the Darknet. He led the agents to Jasbir Singh, known as Theoptimusprime, who was paid Rs 6 lakh in cryptocurrency for drugs.
“Jasbir Singh, a resident of Mogra in West Bengal, was also wanted in the Kolkata case. Initially, he pretended to be a user of drugs but the investigation established his role as a mastermind,” the DDG said. “Jasbir was brutal in that he used to abuse girls after introducing them to drugs. He then blackmailed them with photographs and videos of them using drugs and involving in physical intimacies and exploited them for trafficking drugs.”
Shradha Surana, finance analyst with an MNC earning Rs 68,000 a month, was the next to be arrested. A team led by assistant director Kuldeep Sharma continued to analyse the financial transactions and technical records and arrested Raghunath Kumar, already nabbed in another drug case by Karnataka Police. “The suspect was known as Shoppersstop on the Darknet. He was referred to as LSD King on the Darknet due to his stature and sales,” disclosed Gyaneshwar Singh.
This was followed by the arrest of Naman Sharma aka WalterWhite from Kolkata, Mhamm Aslam, Parichay Arora, Surat businessman Krunal Golwala and his wife Dixita. Fashion designer Subashish Roy alias JessePinkman was apprehended and drugs recovered from his rented flat in Noida. MBBS student Aditya Reddy of Bengaluru and call centre employee Devesh Vasa of Kolkata were nabbed next and drugs recovered from their possession.

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