MUMBAI: In one of the biggest seizures in the past 20 years in Mumbai, the Customs on Thursday seized 38kg gold worth Rs 11.40 crore concealed among ladies footwear in a container.
A Dongri-based importer, Al Reham Impex, had declared the goods as women’s bathroom slippers, brought in from Thailand. The consignment landed at Indira Docks on September 21 and was shifted to Sewri Timber Pond (examination shed) for Customs examination.
The department carries out random checks of containers, about 10% are screened, for contraband. “This is done either on intelligence or a built-in system that picks up consignments based on fixed parameters like country of origin, past imports and profile of importer,” the official said. In this case, officials decided to examine the consignment as the company was a first-time importer.
An officer noticed suspicious images that prompted him to do a complete examination of the container when they found 38 bars concealed inside the slippers. Officials from the Special Intelligence and Investigation Branch of Customs were questioning directors of Al Reham Impex and clearing agent, Sharda Clearing, to gather more details on the modus operandi and recipient of the gold.
Sources said the gold had Thailand markings, which officers said was quite rare. They recalled smuggling of gold through the sea route prior to the 1993 bomb blasts, where gangsters were part of the racket. Customs commissioner Prachi Saroop said they were investigating the case.
In May, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) had seized 52kg gold worth Rs15 crore, allegedly being smuggled from Dubai by a Delhi businessman in Delhi.