Customs officials have found that Deepak Zare – recently arrested by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in connection with the smuggling of two lakh kg of red sanders — had been taking them for a ride.
The DRI had on Saturday arrested five persons and seized 200 tonnes (2 lakh kg) of red sanders worth Rs50 crore. They also seized more than Rs16 crore cash, of which Rs2.58 crore cash was found in Zare's house. Additionally, the DRI had seized 8 expensive cars including Ferrari and Bentley. The kingpin of the gang behind the smuggling, Ajit Satam, was also arrested.
However, Zare, in August this year, had promised Nhava Sheva Custom’s officials that he would expose the gang behind the smuggling. At the time, the officials where completely unaware that Zare too was an important part of the very syndicate they were trying to crackdown upon.
The Customs officials had arrested Zare last year too, in a red sanders smuggling case. At that time the entire operation was master minded by Zare.
Customs officials said that in July this year, Zare claimed that he was reformed, and said that he was no longer involved in smuggling, and had joined the construction business.
Following his arrest last year, Customs officials tried to make him reveal information about the Satam gang, which was very active in red sanders smuggling. "Satam always dealt in large quantity consignments, so we were trying to track his activities," a Custom’s official said, requesting anonymity.
However, after the DRI operation, Customs officials realised that Zare was making false promises and that he was part of Satam gang.
Meanwhile, DRI and Customs officials said that the ease in getting cards by giving fictitious names make their investigation difficult. “For every smuggling operation, the syndicates get eight to ten new SIM cards registered against fake names and addresses, and distributed to the members,” another official said, adding that the SIM cards are destroyed after the completion of the operation.
"Often, they obtain numbers against names of people staying in slums," the official said.