The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Mumbai, has seized 1.2 crore sticks of foreign origin cigarettes with an estimated market value of Rs 24 crore and arrested five persons including an importer for allegedly trying to smuggle them, the DRI said on Sunday. These cigarettes are banned for import into India due to their non-compliance with Indian standards, the DRI said in a release.
Based on specific intelligence, the contraband was seized from a container that was supposed to be trans-shipped to Arshiya Free Trade Warehousing Zone (FTWZ) for further clearance, it said. The DRI officials maintained a discrete vigil on the container's movement. It was found that after the container left the Nhava Sheva Port in Navi Mumbai, instead of reaching its destination, the same was diverted to a private godown while it was en route to Arshiya FTWZ. The DRI officials then intercepted the container at the godown, the release said.
The entire 40-feet container was found to be stuffed with foreign-origin cigarettes which are banned for import into India due to their non-compliance with Indian standards, it said. The syndicate had planned to smuggle the cigarettes by removing them from the container and replacing the same with goods declared in import documents in order to hoodwink customs authorities, the release said.
The godown was already stocked with the declared goods which were supposed to be stuffed in the container after removing the cigarettes, before the container was taken into Arshiya FTZ. A total of 1.07 crore sticks of foreign-origin cigarettes of various brands were recovered from the container, the DRI said. In a swift follow-up operation, another stash of 13 lakh cigarettes of foreign origin which were smuggled earlier by the same syndicate was seized from another godown, the release added.