Pune seems to have become the favourite entry-point for smugglers who are looking to avoid the strict vigil maintained by the customs department at Mumbai airport.
This came to light when Mumbai customs authorities recently apprehended a smuggler of electronic goods. His passport details revealed that the man had travelled from Dubai to Pune 17 times within five months. The 30-year-old smuggler’s identity has been withheld to ensure the investigation is not compromised.
Customs officials said used to fly to Dubai from Mumbai, but landed at the Pune Airport on his return with smuggled goods. From Pune, he travelled to Mumbai by road.
"In his statement, he told us that since there is tight vigil at the Mumbai airport, many smugglers have shifted to Pune," said an official from the Mumbai customs department, requesting anonymity.
The smuggler also admitted that on all the 17 occasions, he managed to dodge Customs authorities at the Pune Airport. Subsequently, the Mumbai Customs has now alerted their counterparts in Pune.
Sources said that the smuggler's case was the only attempt found at Mumbai international airport in last one month.
"Because of tight watch here, smugglers are shifting either to other cities or courier mode," the official said.
In Mumbai, the smuggler was caught with Rs15 lakh worth electronic goods. "He specifically smuggles electronic goods and sells the same at Musafir Khana near Crawford Market in South Mumbai," the official said.
The smuggler also told authorities that while electronic goods and fashion accessories including perfumes are smuggled via Pune, the television smuggling syndicate that smuggles from Bangkok has shifted to Kolkata airport.
"He told us that those into smuggling of fashionable clothing from Bangkok are also using Kolkata," the official said. “They then take domestic flights from Kolkata to Mumbai’s domestic airport where there is no Customs check.”