DUUREANTA (HARROULE IV) – Residents of this colony in the Harroule System remain in shock this morning following reports that Tanvir Vasumati, chief inspector of the Duureanta Narcotics Task Force, was arrested on corruption charges over the weekend.

Vasumati has been a leading figure in the colony’s effort to locate and eliminate illegal khuska oil refining operations. He made headlines late last year when his task force seized more than a million kilograms of illegally produced pharmaceutical-grade khuska oil.

In the months since the seizure, the largest in the colony’s history, Vasumati and his officers have located and dismantled five large clandestine refinery operations. In all, the five raids resulted in an additional 500,000 kilograms of oil being taken off the black market.

Khuska oil, produced from the seeds of the plant of the same name, can be used in the preparation of pain relieving medications. However, it can also be refined into a potent narcotic. Refining khuska oil requires a special permit and is stringently regulated.

In a public statement issued following the arrest of Vasumati, Governor Sanjiir Gupta said he was “disappointed” at the discovery that the task force leader was apparently skimming both cash and contraband from the busts.

“Tanvir has been a hero to many, but he hid a terrible secret,” Gupta said. “In the end his own addictions led to his downfall.”

Vasumati is currently being held without bond. He faces a total of 24 charges including allegations that he accepted bribes, received contraband materials and used his position for personal gain.

Vasumati’s attorney, Haslam Nantirjadal, said this morning that his client plans to launch a “vigorous” defense.

“This is a baseless attack launched by Tanvir’s enemies,” Nantijadal said. “They are feeling the heat of his investigations are now trying to stop him the only way they know: with lies and deceit.”

If convicted on all counts, Vasumati could face a life sentence in prison. However, Durreanta is also one of the Intaki colonies that still have a “nirvaasan” law on its books and prosecutors in the case has hinted they are considering using it. Under the provisions of the law, those found guilty of crimes against the state can be exiled.

While exile might seem lax to outsiders in an interstellar universe where people travel light years in a day, among the traditional Intaki a “nirvaasani” is essentially a pariah who cannot be spoken to or interacted with in any way. The punishment, known among the Intaki as “living death” is seldom used and many who receive it opt instead for suicide.