A team from Indian Customs seized high-end mobile phones and other undeclared goods worth ₹15 crore over the weekend which were being smuggled through the postal service.
The seizures were made after officers were tipped off about illegal movements of the goods, which included gold, mobile phones, drones, smart-watches and cigarettes, which were smuggled via post by non-declaration of the items, thus evading the Customs and Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST).
The rummaging &intelligence division of the Preventive Commissionerate (New Customs House) in Ballard Estate conducted an anti-smuggling operation and the first raid was conducted on February 18 at the MIDC post office in Andheri.
Subsequent raids were conducted at Foreign Post Office (FPO) in Ballard Estate, and Air Parcel Sorting Office (APSO) at Vile Parle (East) on February 20 and 21.
By the end of the raids, officers discovered that the names and addresses of the recipients of the consignments were fake. An officer close to the investigation said that the operation resulted in the seizure of 12 consignments from Chakala -MIDC post office, 26 from FPO and VDB, and five consignments from APSO. A total of around 180gm of gold, 1,470 mobile phones, 322 smart-watches, 64 drones, 41 Bluetooth earphones, 391 cigarette sleeves and 36 auto parts, collectively worth around ₹15 crore were found.
“These were smuggled from Dubai. We are now investigating the case, to get the details,” said the officer.
Sources from the Customs department said that since the number of passenger movements is low due to flying restrictions, smugglers seem to be choosing the least risky (as the addresses mentioned are fake) and lucrative mode to transport undeclared goods. “However, these goods undergo thorough checking before being cleared. Hence, the involvement of internal officers is being looked at,” said a source from the department.
Alok Chopra, principal commissioner of customs, said, “Acting on specific intelligence, the operation was conducted, and seizures were made. While the operation is ongoing, based on intelligence inputs, we are looking forward to a few more seizures and learning the modus operandi used by the smugglers.”
When asked if any Customs officer was involved, Chopra said, “It is too early to comment on this as the investigation is on. However, we will be looking at all the angles.”