Customs dept to catch smugglers at click of mouse | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Customs dept to catch smugglers at click of mouse

mumbai Updated: Nov 20, 2009 00:54 IST
Manish Pachouly

A mouse click would soon land a smuggler trying to take the air route behind bars.

The Customs department is developing a software system that would alert it with the travel information of suspected passengers who are either flying to or coming in from sensitive smuggling destinations.

Named as Advance Passenger Information System, it would also have details of all those people who were earlier caught by the Customs department for smuggling or trying to evade duty. The system would flash their names whenever they travel.

Officials posted at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport said the system, being developed by Directorate General of Systems (Customs and Central Excise), would enable the department to get the daily list of passengers — flying abroad or arriving — from the airlines.

“The details of suspected passengers flying abroad would be in the system three hours before the scheduled time of the flight,” a senior Customs official said requesting anonymity as the work on the system is in the final stages.

He added that for suspected passengers arriving here, the information would be available 15 minutes after the flight takes off from the country where they board.

The official said it would be difficult to single out first-time suspects, but if they frequently travel to any particular sensitive destination, the system would alert the department about them.

“Once we get an alert, we would keep a tight watch on those passengers and even subject them to special checks.”

For those who were earlier caught for duty evasion or smuggling, the system would have all the details like their social, economic and criminal background.

The system would also have details of other tax and octroi evaders. “We have taken details of big evaders from various tax and octroi departments,” the official said.

The department has taken details of wanted criminals from agencies like the police, Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate.

No senior Customs authority was available for comment.