The Mumbai Customs on Sunday foiled a memory card smuggling racket being carried out in Bollywood style.
22,000 memory cards worth Rs 68 lakh were exchanged between four smugglers on board an Air India flight. While one of them, Balwinder Singh, boarded the flight with the smuggled consignment at Hong Kong, the rest joined him in the same flight from Delhi.
On the flight, Balwinder handed over the memory cards he was carrying to his three accomplices. One of them, Rajendra Singh, then took the packet and went to the toilet to strap the cards to his legs. The other two, Rajbeer Singh and Kuldeep Singh, put both their packets into a handbag.
At Mumbai airport, the four men were on their way out through the green channel, when they were held by the Customs officials.
The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai Customs had already been tipped off about the smuggling attempt and the unit was waiting for them at the airport.
“Three members of the team boarded the flight from Delhi and took possession of the memory cards as they fell in the domestic passengers category who are often not screened,” a Customs official said.
About 6,000 memory cards were found strapped to Rajendra’s legs, while 16,000 cards were found in the handbag carried by Kuldeep.
All four were produced before a local court on Monday and remanded to five days judicial custody.
Additional Commissioner of Customs, AIU, B. S. Nunwal confirmed the seizure and arrests. Officials said that Kuldeep was the brain behind the whole operation. Kuldeep deals in memory cards while the rest were his associates in smuggling. Kuldeep had assigned Balwinder the job to bring the memory cards from Hong Kong.
During investigation, officials found that Kuldeep was to deliver the cards to some dealer in Mumbai. The authorities are trying to locate the dealer.
This is the second seizure of memory cards in a week. Last Sunday, the AIU had arrested Hem Prakash with 7,183 memory cards tied to his legs. He had brought the cards from Bangkok.
This is also the second biggest seizure of memory cards in a year. During April-May last year, the Customs had seized 1.2 lakh memory cards worth Rs 3.5 crore. These memory cards had come by post on different occasions during the two months from Hong Kong.