Hyderabad: Around 13 tonnes of restricted/prohibited items worth Rs 52.24 lakh have been seized from the cargo complex of the international airport here, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) said on Thursday.
Based on specific intelligence, five consignments of unaccompanied baggage of African nationals, originating from Lagos, Nigeria, were intercepted on July 19, a DRI press release said.
Similarly, two consignments of commercial edible goods weighing more than three tonnes valued at Rs 11 lakh were intercepted on July 22, the release said.
Seven passengers – two from Nigeria and five from Hyderabad – were being questioned in connection with the seizure, a DRI official said.
No arrests have been made so far and further investigation was under progress, he said.
The five consignments contained edible food stuff and weighed around 10 tonnes and the value declared to the Customs was around Rs 1.3 lakh.
On thorough inspection, the cargo comprised a variety of goods, including noodles, cosmetics, palm oil, beef, dried fish, meat, beverages and alcohol in huge commercial quantity, which are otherwise not allowed to be imported as baggage as per Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act,1992 and Customs Act,1962, the release said.
Further, the consignments have been to be grossly undervalued at Rs 41.24 lakh and seized under the Customs Act.
The statements of the claimants revealed they had grossly undervalued the goods to evade Customs duty and also using the unaccompanied baggage route to avoid regulatory permissions like FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India), Plant Quarantine, Animal Quarantine, State Excise, and Legal Metrology that are mandated for entry of goods into India, the release said.
It was further revealed that certain items were found to be prohibited/restricted for import into India. The claimants would sell the commercial goods so smuggled in the local markets at various metros across India.
It is observed that African nationals have come to India on either tourist or medical visa and were found to be engaged in smuggling of unregulated food stuff into India, the release said.
In some cases, the financier would book the consignment on any other African person coming to India and claim the baggage to avoid suspicion. It was found that many times the passengers on whose name the consignments were booked never visited Hyderabad, the release added.