A diver-turned-peddler who did it all on the sly

Puthuvype resident in judicial custody on charge of possessing large quantities of charas

Verification of the antecedents of Varghese Judeson, a 52-year-old from Puthuvype who was nabbed with over 10 kg of charas and an unlicensed pistol last week, has left the Excise Department with an intriguing backstory.

It has emerged that he had been a diver on an oil rig with a hefty monthly pay check running into lakhs in Dubai for around 15 years before he returned home. An acquaintance from Varanasi who he met in Dubai reportedly helped him cultivate contacts in Nepal, which formed the bedrock of his alleged drug smuggling network. He also helped him secure a country-made pistol.

The department suspects that Judeson had been in the business for not less than one-and-a-half years during which time he is suspected to have run several drug peddling sorties. Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh along the border used to be his halting point from where he allegedly crossed over to Nepal and bought the stuff.

“He claims to have no permanent supplier, and that he bought charas from different sources since it was easily available. But that will have to be verified,” said Excise sources. He used to personally take delivery of the drug and drove his way back through the UP-Maharashtra-AP route. He also made it a point never to attend calls during the journey presumably to avoid chances of detection, the sources added.

Judeson always smuggled in between 10 kg and 15 kg of charas that fetched him huge margins depending on the quality of the drug, with the top quality stuff reaping anything between ₹3 lakh and ₹5 lakh.

The accused was also found to be running a rent-a-car business with 10 cars he owned. The vehicles had registration number plates in black and white and not the customary yellow and black, indicating that the business was probably being run illegally, the sources said.

Judeson allegedly resorted to intimidatory tactics, including the deployment of quotation gangs, to settle disputes in his rent-a-car business. The pistol also came in handy in such dealings.

The Excise is now planning to file an application for the custody of the accused who is in judicial custody for collecting further evidence, while his clientèle also remains under surveillance. Apart from the Excise case, the Varappuzha police had also registered a case against him under the Arms Act for illegal possession of pistol. The police may also seek his custody in connection with the case.

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