The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) is investigating if the attempt to smuggle 26 Franck Muller watches worth more than Rs 2.5 crore was linked to payment for some kind of drug smuggling.
The DRI suspects that the watches could be for a syndicate that would have smuggled some drug out of India.
The DRI also suspect that the watches were concealed in the Air India flight toilet at Abu Dhabi before passengers boarded the flight. The watches and a white chemical powder were found in a hand bag concealed in the Air India flight that arrived at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport from Abu Dhabi on Monday night.
“We suspect it could be some cleaning staff or maintenance engineer in Abu Dhabi, who might have concealed the watches in the toilet,” a senior DRI officer said requesting anonymity. The agency suspect that either a cleaner or engineer or any other maintenance staff who was to board the flight after arrival, would have known about the consignment. It further suspects that the smugglers might not have travelled in the same flight.
The DRI has sought the rooster from Air India to get the list of crew members present in the flight and also list of other staff, which was supposed to enter the flight after arrival and once passengers are out.
The DRI will soon record statements of the crew members and other staff, whose names they would get from the roaster. The officer said as it is difficult to send cash for drug or any other banned product smuggling, the syndicates try to smuggle expensive things as payment. “These watches would have found buyers among those who runs expensive watches showrooms here,” the officer said adding that this way the smuggler who smuggled drugs out of the country would have got his payment here.
He added that buying smuggled watches is profitable even for the showroom owners, as it comes without any duty. Also, to import watches one needs licence. He added that besides saving on duty, the buyers of smuggled watches, who would further sell it, also saves on other kinds of taxes like octroi and sales tax, as the same remains unaccounted.