In a major seizure, the customs authorities seized around 24,000kg red sanders valued at Rs 2 crore at Nhava Sheva port. The consignment, placed in a container, was seized last week just before it was to be loaded in a ship and smuggled to Dubai.
Red sanders is a tree yielding a hard fragrant timber. It is in high demand for its characteristic wavy grains. It is also used for making musical instruments and certain medicaments.
Customs and port authorities said the container was cleared for shipment as the documents were fabricated to show that it contained synthetic yarn from Surat. Also, it was declared that the yarn was placed in the container at the factory and under supervision of the central excise officials.
However, the customs officers got suspicious and on scrutinising the documents they found that fake seals and stamps of the central excise department were used.
The authorities also found that the smugglers had used the import-export code (IEC) of an exporter.
A senior customs officer said when the exporter was questioned, he claimed that he had not exported anything in the past two years.
The customs suspect that the smugglers got the shipping bill generated with the help of forged documents and fake central excise seal and stamps.
“After getting the shipping bill generated, nobody from the gang comes near the container and hence it becomes difficult to catch them,” the officer said.
Customs officers suspect that the smugglers might have loaded the red senders in the container near Navi Mumbai.