The Punjab Police arrested 23 people and seized 36 weapons with the arrest of an ‘A’ category gangster Sukhpreet Singh alias Budha, Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta said on Thursday.
Some of the arrests and raids were carried out in adjoining states of Haryana and Rajasthan. Four shops of gun dealers have also been sealed.
Gupta said further operations are in progress to identify other links of the accused.
He said a major crackdown on illegal supply of weapons by unscrupulous weapon dealers has led to recovery of 30 weapons from criminals arrested during the raids.
With the recovery of the illegal weapons, several gun house dealers have been booked.
Taking serious note of large-scale discrepancies and loopholes in the stock, sale and purchase of arms and ammunition by arms dealers and licence holders, a state-wide audit of working of arms dealers and licensing branches is also being carried out by the police.
The police managed to get Budha deported from Armenia and arrested him from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi in November last year.
Following a disclosure by him, the Punjab Police, in a joint operation with the Anti Terrorist Squad of Uttar Pradesh arrested Ashish from Meerut district on January 30.
Ashish, also wanted in the targeted killing cases being investigated by the NIA, was believed to be the main supplier of illegal automatic weapons used by the criminals to commit murders, extortions, kidnappings for ransom and other crimes.
The DGP said that Ashish was arrested for the first time for his alleged involvement in smuggling of illicit liquor. Later, he was arrested by Punjab Police and booked under a NDPS case, in which he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 2012 and sent to Nabha jail in Patiala.
In the jail he came into contact with Dharminder Gugni and Sukha Kahlwan.
After his release from the jail, he jumped bail in 2014, but he remained in touch with Gugni and started supplying illegal weapons to him and most wanted criminals like Jaggu Bhagwanpuria, Davinder Bambhia and Kahlwan.
They had been using the weapons in gang wars, murders, extortions and kidnappings in Punjab since 2014, police said.
The weapons supplied to Budha and his associates were used in assault on Punjabi singer Permish Verma in Mohali.
A special investigation team under the supervision of AIG Harkamalpreet Khakh is conducting the investigation and efforts are on to recover more illegal weapons, the DGP added.