Fearing arrest, smugglers dump watches worth Rs 80 lakh

Three men were nabbed by Custom officials at the international airport's green channel while they were attempting to flee the premises to evade arrest

In what can be termed as a major achievement, the Customs officials posted at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport confiscated 1,104 high-end watches worth Rs 80 lakh on Monday. The watches were being smuggled into the city from Hong Kong via the Kingfisher Hong Kong-Mumbai flight no IT 72.

According to the officials, the consignment was hidden in three different handbags, belonging to three different smugglers, who, fearing arrest, left their bags on board before they got off the flight. However, their luck ran out and they were nabbed from the green channel.

Acting on the information that three unclaimed bags were on board, Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) team of the Mumbai Airport Customs led by it's Deputy Commissioner Sameer Wankhede, reached the aircraft and took possession of the unclaimed bags.

"After receiving information about unclaimed bags lying in flight IT 72, we seized the consignment being smuggled into the city via this flight. Our officials at the checkpoints were alerted about the bags and the absconders," said an AIU official, requesting anonymity.

Soon, the officials nabbed Padni Sufian, Mohammed Samshudin and Memon Mudassar, the three suspected smugglers.

"We detained them from the green channel and later took them to the flight, where in front of the flight staff, the accused admitted that the consignment belonged to them. In their statement, they have confessed that they are smugglers by profession," added the official.

Confirming the trio's arrest, P M Saleem, commissioner of Mumbai Airport Customs said, "Yes, three people were intercepted with high-end watches and were later booked under various sections of the Indian Customs Act." The trio was produced in the Esplanade Court yesterday afternoon, where they were granted bail.

The officials added that the consignment included renowned brands such as Rolex, Omega and Cartier. Besides, they stated that soon, a revaluation of the consignment would be carried out because at present, the valuation has been done on the basis of details provided by the smugglers, and there is a likelihood that the amount may increase.

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