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Cablegate: Indian Authorities Seize Usd 70 Million Amphetamine

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PP RUEHBI RUEHCHI RUEHCI RUEHCN
DE RUEHCI #0536/01 3320805
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280805Z NOV 06
FM AMCONSUL CALCUTTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1286
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1155
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 0456
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 0458
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0287
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 0189
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0287
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0220
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0081
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0003
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0038
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 0127
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 0009
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFIUU/JIATF WEST
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC
RUEIDN/DNI WASHINGTON DC
RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 0001
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL CALCUTTA 1581

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CALCUTTA 000536

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PACOM FOR POL/AD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR KCRM SOCI ASEC IN CH CO
SUBJECT: INDIAN AUTHORITIES SEIZE USD 70 MILLION AMPHETAMINE
PRECURSOR CHEMICALS IN CALCUTTA

1. (SBU) Summary: On November 14 officials of the Indian
Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) seized an estimated USD 70
million in methampetamine precursor chemicals in a cargo
shipping container at a warehouse in Calcutta. NCB officials
arrested Indian national of Chinese origin Vincent Chang alias
Chang Xug Song (age 23) and Michel Suanpu (age 36) a
Manipur-based businessman from Mizoram, Northeast Indian states
bordering Burma. The container originated in Columbia, transited
Hong Kong and Huang Pu ports, China, and was to be sent to
Gurgaon, a rapidly developing IT center near New Delhi. The
shipping container appears to have been a self-contained, mobile
factory with the necessary equipment to convert the chemicals to
methamphetamine. Locating the shipping container in Gurgaon
would have provided a large market of young, IT professionals
with greater independence and disposable income and therefore
likely to experiment with methamphetamine. This recent arrest
and similar arrest in 2003 in Calcutta reflect the effort by
drug dealers to expand markets from the traditional but remote
Northeast Indian states bordering Burma, where drug usage is
endemic, to urban population in centers in India proper. This
new tactic use of a shipping container as a "mobile factory"
will make detection of such efforts more difficult. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) On November 14, 50 NCB officers seized a shipping
container in the Balmer Lawrie warehouse at 21 Netaji Subhas
Road, Taratala, Calcutta, with methamphetamine precursor
chemicals approximately USD 70 million in value. According to
NCB contacts, the container was registered to a Chinese company
Yong Yong and declared to contain machine tools. The container
was loaded in Columbia, transited Hong Kong and Huangpu Port,
Guangdong province, China, prior to arriving in Calcutta in
October. The container was due to be shipped to Gurgaon, a
rapidly developing IT center near New Delhi. Gurgaon has a
large and growing middle class community of IT and service
professionals, representing an ideal market for methamphetamine.
This container was actually a second such shipment. A similar
container had earlier transited Calcutta in July and was seized
by the NCB in Gurgaon in October and apparently led to the
latest seizure in Calcutta.

3. (U) Authorities have released the name of two arrested
suspects, an Indian-national of Chinese origin Vincent Chang
alias Chang Xug Song (age 23) and Michel Suanpu (age 36) from
Mizoram but based in Manipur, Northeast Indian states bordering
Burma. Media reports indicate a total of six people were
arrested in connection with the shipment.

4. (SBU) Earlier in July, local British Broadcasting
Corporation (BBC) correspondent Subir Bhaumik noted to ConGen
that Northeast India-based drug dealers were seeking to shift
production of methamphetamine to markets in India's major urban
centers because obtaining precursor chemicals in the Northeast
was complicated as was shipping the finished product to the
profitable markets in India proper. Bhaumik cited the May 2003
arrest of Burmese Baikha Kema, who was arrested in Calcutta
attempting to establish a methamphetamine lab in this city as an
example. Kema was never prosecuted, having escaped from jail
while awaiting trial. This latest arrest appears to reinforce
Bhaumik's observation as authorities told press that the seized
container was to have been sent to Mizoram but the dealers
decided to shift instead to Gurgaon.

5. (SBU) Comment. The arrest of Manipur-based and ethnic Mizo
Michel Suanpu in this recent effort to establish a
methamphetamine lab in Gurgaon, presents the disturbing prospect
of the endemic drug problem of Northeast India bleeding into
India's growing IT and service centers. India's burgeoning

CALCUTTA 00000536 002 OF 002


young, middle class IT professionals, business processing and
call center workers with ready disposable income represents an
attractive potential new market for methamphetamine. These
service workers often work long hours, usually doing late night
shifts to service customers in the U.S. and Europe. Typically
on their own for the first time, these young professionals have
ready disposable income and a desire to experiment with their
new social independence. Methamphetamine, therefore, is a
prefect drug for the sleepless IT workers looking to enjoy their
new found money and lifestyle.
JARDINE

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