Student offered DU friends free Dubai trip, smuggled cigarettes in their luggage
Investigation revealed that an Afghan national offered two DU students a foreign trip and used them to smuggle cigarettes to Delhi. During their return, they were asked to keep some packets in their check-in baggage.Updated: Jul 11, 2017 13:49 IST
Catching foreign nationals for smuggling cigarettes is nothing unusual for customs officials at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
But few months ago, an Afghan student living in India and his two Delhi University friends were caught for allegedly smuggling cigarettes, forcing customs to keep an eye on young students coming from the Gulf.
Investigation revealed that an Afghan national offered two DU students a foreign trip and used them to smuggle cigarettes to Delhi. During their return, they were asked to keep some packets in their check-in baggage.
“While scanning, we found cigarette packets in huge quantity in the baggage of two Indian nationals, one male and one female. They were unaware that the packets had cigarette boxes,” said a customs official.
Inquiry revealed that all three were studying together and the Afghan offered them to take to Dubai.
“They told us many of their friends often visit Dubai and they have some common Afghan friends. We suspect some gangs are using students for smuggling. In these cases, we don’t make arrests since the value (of the seized contraband) is not much,” the official said.
In smuggling, arrests are made only when the value of the seized item is over R 10 lakh.
Customs says there is huge demand for imported cigarettes in the city. Cigarettes such as Gudang Garam International, Pine, Davidoff and Esse worth R 50 lakh are usually seized in a year.
“Usually, there is a margin of R 1,000 per packet of cigarette. If a passenger keeps even 100 such boxes in a check-in bag, it is worth R1 lakh. The amount is good enough to sponsor the trip and save some money after smuggling,” the official added.
Internationally, cigarette is the most smuggled item due to the price difference. The smugglers evade excise VAT and customs duty and the vendors are also happy as they can sell it at the price they want to.
“Usually, if a packet cost R 400 in the source country, it is sold in India in R 1,400,” the official said.
The Delhi government also keeps a check on use of imported cigarettes and conducts raids. Customs has to destroy seized cigarettes as they come without MRP and warning, which is mandatory to sell cigarettes in India.
Initially, the customs had starting selling seized cigarettes but after the health ministry raised objections, it was decided that these would be destroyed.
The customs is also keeping vigil on gold smugglers offered to sponsor honeymoon of young couples who bring gold on return. .