The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the Mumbai customs intercepted two passengers on Sunday who were allegedly attempting to smuggle tobacco to Republic of Congo.
AIU intercepted Vijay Kumar Natvarlal Rupapara and Manish Kumar Mansukhlal Khambani, both holding Indian passports. The passengers have not been arrested but will be penalised.
“Illicit trade of tobacco is detrimental to public health and takes revenue away from the government, which could have otherwise been spent on public services. Instead, such funds are directed into the hands of offenders,” said Pradnyasheel Jumle, deputy commissioner of customs, AIU.
The duo was departing to Lubumbashi via Addis Ababa when they were intercepted on suspicion and their luggage was checked. “The passengers were to export 5,869 pouches and 900 tins of tobacco products, 185.5kg of chopped betel nuts, 11 mobile phones and two tablets — together valued at Rs5.12 lakh,” said a senior AIU officer.
Authorities said that the duo may be smuggling to cater to Indians in Congo as the quantity was huge — 597 kilograms. “The fliers were concealing the products in their 17 checked-in-baggages and four hand baggages, weighing 597kg. They were willing to pay for the extra baggage,” said the officer.
Investigations are on to check if the accused were involved in any such cases in the past as well. “We are investigating the financial transactions that will take place and the method. A show cause notice will be issued to the accused. Such an export is prohibited by law,” said the officer. The seized products will be destroyed as per the standard procedure, revealed AIU.
AIU said that the passengers, in their statements recorded under Section 108 of the Customs Act, 1962, has admitted knowledge, possession, carriage, concealment and recovery of the goods that the accused tried to smuggle out of the country.