Smuggling syndicates in the city no longer prefer jewellery, electronic goods and other valuable items, which yield high returns, but also involve high risks.
They have suddenly taken fancy to odd items, such as lockets and pendants of Indian deities, lingerie and ‘fake’ branded T-shirts, which are increasingly flooding our local markets. Being low-priced, they involve less risk, but yield high returns as they are in great demand in the city.
The Customs authorities in the last two months have come across several cases where attempts were made to smuggle low-priced and odd items into the country.
The pendants and lockets of Indian deities are sold mostly at stalls near the Siddhivinayak and the Mahalaxmi temples.
These stainless steel and silver items, which are often smuggled into the city from Bangkok, are dearer than the local ones, but since their finishing is better, their demand is usually high. Sources said that lingerie and T-shirts are also in high demand, especially at local markets such as Andheri, Lokhandwala and Crawford Market. Sources said carrying such low-priced items isn’t risky either. If a carrier is caught with a consignment less than Rs5 lakh, he is not arrested; only liable for penalty, depending on the total worth of the goods.
“If a carrier is caught with a consignment of low-priced items, chances are that he would get away by paying a measly penalty. These items are not completely prohibited and their value is less, and there is very less redemption fine and penalty compared to other valuables,” said advocate Sujay Kantawala, who handles Customs-related cases. He added that these are very fast moving items and are immediately sold in the market. “Therefore it is very lucrative to even pay fine, penalty and clear the goods,” said Kantawala.
Sources added that the carriers, who bring these consignments for the actual smugglers, are paid commission from Rs10,000 to Rs15,000 per trip, besides free return tickets.
Officials said since Customs duty is not paid, the price of such items remains low. They added that if the goods were declared, then the syndicates wouldn’t only have to pay Customs duty but also octroi, sales tax and other taxes.
Including the duty and taxes, the cost of these goods would be doubled if the same were brought through official channel, officials pointed out.