Mustafa Bookwala (40), who was arrested on Wednesday by the Customs for smuggling Rs 2 crore worth memory cards, is a seasoned operator.
His passport revealed this.
The Customs authorities found that Bookwala travelled to Hong Kong 20 times in a year, which was not normal. Though Customs officials said that all these trips were related to memory card smuggling, Bookwala has said that he did this only on three occasions.
The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai Customs had arrested Bookwala and Shaikh Pervez Ali (38) from the transit lounge of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and seized 88,878 memory cards.
Bookwala, who arrived from Hong Kong on Tuesday night with the memory cards, had booked a ticket for another flight to Dubai scheduled
for Wednesday morning. He waited in the transit lounge for eight hours because Ali was to meet him there.
Ali too booked a Delhi ticket from an international Air India flight so that he could get access to the transit lounge and the consignment could be exchanged.
“Bookwala admitted that he used a similar modus operandi to smuggle memory cards,” said a senior Customs official, requesting anonymity.
The two were remanded in judicial custody until April 9.
A Customs team also went to raid an electronic goods shop at Crawford Market on Thursday but found it locked. The shop came under scanner after Bookwala told officials that he operated for its owner.
The team went to the shop owner’s Colaba residence but did not find him there. “His father said he doesn’t stay there and has not visited him for many months,” the official said, suspecting the father’s version. Officials believe the shop owner was alerted after Bookwala’s arrest and went underground.
Officials said it was Bookwala’s discomfort while waiting at the transit lounge, that arose suspicion among the authorities.