According to the Directorate of Enforcement (ED), the accused mastermind has acquired assets in his own name and in the name of his close family members out of the proceeds of crimes derived from illegal trafficking of opium. Some of them presently attached by ED. TFM unearths the story.
By TFM Investigative Team
In a first for Manipur, the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has attached assets worth Rs 60.72 lakh belonging to an opium-trafficking mastermind.
The people in Manipur are in the dark about the progress of many such investigations, except for a few high-profile cases. Pursuing such cases remains a herculean task for many journalists as officials, who have made available the information about multi-crore drug seizures to the media, are reluctant to share their challenges and difficulties in handling the cases. TFM investigated for almost a month to unearth the story.
A huge haul of 132.550 Kg opium on August 13, 2021
In connection with the seizure of 132.550 Kg of opium on August 13, 2021 by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the agency submitted its charge-sheet to the court of special judge NDPS, Senapati and named five accused persons. The alleged mastermind identified as one Yengkhom Nonglensana, from whose house sale proceeds of drugs amounting Rs 57.82 lakh and yellow metal suspected to be gold weighing 117 gm were seized, had managed to secure an anticipatory bail order.
Following the recovery of huge cash by NCB, the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) has intervened to investigate the accused Nonglensana’s financial dealings. The agency has provisionally attached immovable and movable properties worth Rs 60,72,600 under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 in connection with the case. An investigation by ED revealed that the accused Y Nonglensana was allegedly operating a well-knit syndicate of trafficking opium in criminal connivance with his accomplices across the different states of India, said an official who wished not be identified.
It could be the first investigation initiated by ED in a drug haul case in Manipur. According to the ED, the accused Y Nonglensana had acquired assets in his own name and in the name of his close family members out of the proceeds of crimes derived from the trafficking of opium.
“One moveable property i.e., one SUV worth Rs 13.50 lakhs (booked value), and one immovable property i.e., G+3 RCC Building worth Rs. 47,22,600/- located in Imphal have been attached by ED,” the ED official added.
Other four accused named in the charge-sheet—Zingambo Wijunamai, Yengkhom Wanglen Singh, Ms. Tawailiu Namnamei (all from Kangpokpi district), and Shyam Kishore Sahani from Bihar—who were arrested for the possession of opium were released on bail.
NCB charge-sheet and the story
According to the charge-sheet, NCB received specific information that Tawailiu Namnamei along with her associate is likely to deliver a huge quantity of opium to Shyam Kishore, driver of the truck bearing registration no. AS01DD2757 near village Changoubung, Kangpokpi District, along Imphal-Dimapur National Highway. Based on the input, the NCB team along with personnel of 182 BN BSF, Koirengei proceeded to Changoubung village on August 13, 2021.
The “suspected truck” was found to be stationed at the roadside at a lonely place located around two km ahead of Kangpokpi town towards Senapati. The team mounted surveillance around the spot. Later, a white Mahindra Bolero without a number plate arrived from the Senapati side and stopped near the truck. One lady later identified as Tawailiu Namnamei and her associate Zingambo Wijunamai (also the driver of the Bolero SUV) started unloading goods packed in nylon gunny bags into the cabin of the truck. After following due process of law, the NCB team carried out searches of the truck and bolero. During the searches, 60 polythene packets of opium, weighing 60.36 kg, were recovered from the two vehicles. Tawailiu, Zingambo, and truck driver Shyam Kishore were arrested.
The charge-sheet said, consequent upon the seizure of opium and arrest of three persons, the NCB team conducted a search on the accused Wanglen’s residential premises in Kangpokpi on the basis of the lead provided by Tawailiu Namnamei. During the search, 71 polythene packets of opium weighing 72.2 kg were recovered and Wanglen was arrested.
It further said that during the preliminary question, Wanglen revealed that the seized opium was procured from his uncle Yengkhom Nonglensana of Imphal East. Following his disclosure, another NCB team proceeded to Nonglensana’s residence in Porompat near JNIMS Hospital and conducted the search adhering to laid-down procedures. During the search, no contraband was recovered. However, the “sale proceeds of the drugs amounting to Rs 57.82 lakh and yellow metal suspected to be gold weighing 117 gm were recovered”, said the charge-sheet.
The charge-sheet further stated that Zingambo Wijunamai admitted that he had been doing opium trafficking as per the direction given to him by Tawailiu Namnamai, who is also his cousin sister. He also admitted that he had delivered the consignment of opium four times in October 2020 as per Tawailiu’s direction and he used to collect opium from Y Wanglen Singh of Kangpokpl and further delivered it to one Shyam Kishore Sahani for further transportation of the item to Guwahati, Assam.
Opium Carrier gets Rs 10,000 per delivery
The charge-sheet said Tawailiu Namnamai admitted that as she was living near the highway, her brother-in-law Yengkhom Nonglensana and Y Wanglen Singh told her to send opium from Kangpokpi for further delivery to the truck driver Shyam Kishore. She also admitted that under the direction of Nonglensana, she and Zingambo had been collecting Opium from Kangpokpi and further handed it over to Shyam Kishore for which she got Rs 10,000 from Nonglensana for every delivery.
As per the charge sheet, Y. Wanglen Singh admitted that his uncle Yengkhom Nonglensana was in the illegal Opium business for the last 10 years. He also admitted that his uncle used to store opium for further supply to Tawailiu for which he was given Rs 2000/- per packet. He also accepted that he had supplied opium packets to Zingambo and Tawailiu more than 10 times.
The charge sheet maintained that Shyam Kishore came in close contact with Nonglensana and subsequently he was made to indulge in the illegal opium trade. For every consignment/trip he was offered Rs 15,000. He also admitted that on 13.08.2021, Yengkhom Nonglensana contacted him to carry 60 kg of opium and for which he offered him Rs 25,000. He admitted that he had successfully transported opium four times from Imphal to Guwahati as directed by Nonglensana and delivered it to one Sharmaji alias Shravan in Guwahati, Assam.
The charge sheet further said Yengkhom Nonglensana in his own voluntary statement recorded u/s 67 of the NDPS Act, 1985 refused to admit being the mastermind in opium trafficking. However, he admitted to giving financial support to Wanglen, Tawailiu, and Zingambo.
On analysing the Call Detail Record (CDR) of mobile numbers used by Nonglensana, it was found that he was in regular contact with Wanglen, Shyam Kishore, and Tawailiu few days before the seizure, added the charge sheet.
How TFM worked to file this investigative report?
The Frontier Manipur received inputs from a source on November 14 almost 20 days after properties worth over Rs 60 lakh were attached. However, the TFM team did a crosscheck on the tip-off, and nothing has been found in the state official data pool. No media outlets had also reported about the seizure of 130 kg of opium on August 13, 2021.
No record was found about the accused and others being booked in connection with the case despite serious charges against them in Narcotics and Affairs of Border (NAB). So, the TFM team dug further into the case , keeping the bare information on hold for the time being.
TFM could not any find any records in connection nor was the case number available. Later, the team was able to find the actual location of the immovable property i.e. G+3 RCC Building worth Rs 47,22,600/- attached by the ED. The attached immovable property was finally located at Soibam Lekai, Porompat.
A source clarified that it was an NCB case, not a police case. ED’s intervention came on the basis of the NCB case. TFM investigation team backed by experts, friendly sources, lawyers and supporters, reached out to various agencies in Imphal to extract the case number. After tracking the files, TFM embarked on to unearth the whole story. While investigating the case, TFM team also contacted many official sources who flatly denied offering information. The team also made several trips to Senapati to find out additional information. There were others who extended full help and even provided documents on the condition they remained anonymous on record. It is the first time the ED has seized the assets of a drug smugger in the state of Manipur. The case is still progressing and underway.