In a first-of-its-kind case, the Nhava Sheva Customs found red sanders that was declared as a consignment of vegetables, in a refrigerated container to be smuggled to Dubai.
The smugglers chose to do so assuming that perishable items would not be stopped by customs authorities and would be cleared immediately. However, on suspicion, the customs authorities screened the container and found that it contained only logs. The authorities found around 23,000 kg of red sanders worth Rs2 crore.
Customs officials said that the 40-ft container arrived at the Nhava Sheva port a few days back. However, after screening the container and finding logs, the officials waited for a few days to see if somebody comes to inquire about the same.
“However, nobody came, as those involved would have found out that we have detained the consignment,” said a customs official at Nhava Sheva, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The authorities are trying to trace those involved in the smuggling attempt. They found that the addresses given in the documents were fake.
The officials also found that the container was shown as factory stuffed. As per the procedure, a factory stuffed container is packed in the presence of central excise officials who put their seal. Such containers are not checked by the customs at ports unless they have a doubt.
The Customs have found that the central excise seal was also a fake one. The official said that smugglers have men placed in some shipping companies who alert them if their consignment is not loaded in the ship on the given day. “When we detain a consignment, we inform the particular shipping company on whose ship the consignment is to be shipped,” the official said.
He added that smugglers book their consignments with only those shipping companies where they have planted their men. “Such men are called ‘cameras’ in the coded term.”
The ‘camera’ informs the smugglers when their consignment is not loaded. “Hence they come to know about the detention and they don’t come to inquire about the same,” the official said.