The interception of MSV Yusufi on Wednesday midnight could be a hint that Mumbai’s infamous smuggling mafia is trying to regain its lost prominence.
The 436 crates of 555 and Gudang Garam cigarettes, mobile accessories and television sets seized from the vessel takes one back to the 60s, 70s and 80s era when the likes of Haji Mastan and Karim Lala used to rule the smuggling business.
Agencies interrogating the five Indian men who were onboard the seized boat suspect that it was being used by the smuggling cartel now controlled by fugitive gangster and global terrorist Dawood Ibrahim.
The suspicion over the five men, natives of Mota Salaya in Kutch district of Gujarat, being part of the Dawood Ibrahim gang stems from the fact that the region features among the many erstwhile smuggling routes controlled by the gang.
Police sources who track smuggling activity said the smugglers change the goods to be smuggled after each Budget session based on the tax levied on products. The annual Union budget sets the agenda for which goods could fill the smugglers’ coffers, said police sources.
“There is strong apprehension that the Budget this year could lead to smuggling of gold and electronic goods once again. Prima facie, the products seized from MSV Yusufi indicate the possibility of renewed efforts from the smuggling cartels,” said a senior police officer requesting anonymity.
Earlier, the Dossa gang had mastered the art of using sea routes, and had recruited agents across the country’s coastline spreading from Kutch in Gujarat to West Bengal, to land products bought at cheaper rates from the Gulf countries.
Umarmiyan Panjumiyan Bukhari, alias Mammumiya, one of his landing agents in Gujarat had told police officials that he received Mustafa Dossa’s ship Al Sadabahar in Gujarat in 1993. Apart from weapons and RDX used in the 1993 blasts, the ship had landed silver ingots.
But since Dossa was deported from Dubai on March 20, 2003, for his alleged involvement in transportation of RDX used in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, Dawood has taken over Dossa’s network of landing agents and seafarers, said police officials.