In the second drug seizure this week, the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai Customs on Wednesday seized 15 kg of party drug methaqualone, worth Rs. 2.23 crore, which was being smuggled to London through air courier.
To evade the Customs net, the consignment had been declared as food item and was being delivered in parts - while 10 kg was booked on a Qatar Airways flight, the remaining 5kg was booked by an Air India flight, scheduled to leave early on Wednesday from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport.
The drugs were not detected even when the packed boxes were screened and the consignment was finally intercepted while being loaded on to the flight.
The drugs were disguised in packets of salt and tea, further hidden in packed boxes to be couriered. The salt and tea packets had been opened, filled with the drug and then resealed. There were 30 packets, each containing half a kg of drugs.
"The packets were screened before they were loaded on to the planes, but the drug could not be detected," said a senior Customs official.
The drugs were found after an AIU team, headed by deputy commissioner of Customs, Sameer Wankhede, received information about the consignment. The first consignment was seized while being loaded on to the Qatar Airways flight at around 2.30am and the second was found at 5am, while being loaded onto the Air India flight.
On checking the consignment, the Customs found white crystal powder. The chemical test confirmed it was methaqualone.
The AIU officials found a Santacruz office address on both the consignments. However, the team found the office locked.
"The accused might have taken the office on rent and escaped after booking the courier," the official said. The courier was booked on Tuesday night. Officials suspect that the name of the receiver and his address in London could be false.
The drug falls under the category of banned substances under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
In light of a series of recent drug seizures, Customs has been put on alert. Confirming the latest seizure, PM Saleem, commissioner of Customs, airport, said officials have been sensitised and there is increased scrutiny on couriers.