The Mumbai airport Customs arrested a non-resident Indian (NRI) couple who attempted to smuggle branded diamond-studded watches, jewellery, Indian currency and dollars — collectively worth Rs 2 crore — on Friday.
Businessman Dilip Sontakke, 56, and his wife Jayshree, 51, were caught on their arrival from the US via London on a British Airways flight at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Sontakke was to visit Nagpur for a business meeting.
A Customs batch headed by deputy commissioner Sameer Wankhede stopped the couple around 11am after they had crossed the green channel without declaring the goods they were carrying.
Only those passengers who do not have anything to declare can walk through the green channel.
The Customs authorities seized 16 watches of international brands including Rolex, Cartier, Piaget and Patek Phillipe. They also seized solitaire rings and other diamond-studded jewellery such as necklaces, bracelets and earrings from them.
On being stopped by the Customs officials, Dilip looked nervous, which made officials ever more suspicious.
On checking, the authorities found that Dilip was carrying solitaire diamond rings and jewellery in the inner pocket of his coat and six wrist watches in other pockets.
From Jayshree’s handbag, they found 10 watches and recovered the remaining valuables from their other bags, including the one carrying toiletries.
The officials found Rs1 lakh in cash and US $11,000 on the couple. During questioning, the couple told the officials that they took the green channel by mistake. However, not believing their excuse, the authorities arrested them.
Officials said the couple claimed that the valuables were worth Rs2 crore, but they suspect the value could be far more. About the watches and jewellery, Sontakke told the Customs officials that they changed their wristwatches on a regular basis.
“The exact worth would be confirmed once the experts give us the value of the watches and the diamond jewellery,” said a Customs official on condition of anonymity. PM Saleem, commissioner of Customs, airport, confirmed that such a case had been reported and further investigations are on.