Customs intelligence directorate seizes smuggled goods worth Rs635m

January 28, 2023

The Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation , Customs, Karachi, has seized smuggled goods to the value of Rs635 million as well as vehicles worth Rs24 million.An FIR has been lodged and three...

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The Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation (I&I), Customs, Karachi, has seized smuggled goods to the value of Rs635 million as well as vehicles worth Rs24 million.

An FIR has been lodged and three persons have been arrested for questioning. According to a customs source, a specific piece of information was provided by Director General Faiz Ahmad Chadhar that an organised group involved in smuggling would secretly dump a huge quantity of smuggled goods in a compound near Rizvia Society, Scheme 33, Malir. Pursuant to the information, an anti-smuggling team of the Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation, Customs, was constituted and it started surveillance in this regard. On January 25 at around 11am the team noticed two Mazda trucks coming out the premises. The team chased the trucks and intercepted them on Rashid Minhas Road. On a cursory search, the trucks were found to be loaded with foreign-origin assorted laptops. When the drivers failed to provide any documents showing legal import/possession, the trucks along with the drivers were escorted to the office of the directorate.

Meanwhile, another truck was witnessed exiting the premises which was also intercepted by the team near the Askari Park, University Road. An initial search revealed it too be loaded with aircraft piston engine oil. When the driver failed to produce any legal documents, the vehicle was brought to the office.

Thereafter, a search warrant for the premises under Section 162 of the Customs Act, 1969, was obtained from a civil judge and a judicial magistrate of Malir. When the team entered the premises, it found another Mazda truck and a Suzuki pickup loaded with smuggled goods. There were also other smuggled items lying in the premises which were then loaded onto a truck. All the smuggled goods along with the vehicles were brought to the directorate. A detailed inventory of the goods has been prepared. The value of the goods is estimated to be around Rs369 million and that of the vehicles Rs24 million. According to documents available with The News, the Custom department, made a seizure of 12,780 bottle of liquor and beer cans (10,548 bottles and 2,160 cans) worth Rs252 million imported in the garb of diplomatic cargo. The documents revealed that Absolut Vodka’s 1,080 bottles, Scotch whisky’s 3,000 bottles, blended Clan MCG’s 1,080 bottles, Grants Blended Scoth whisky’s 828 bottles, Chivas Regal’s 888, Sparkling Wine’s 120 bottles etc. were seized by the customs.

According to the documents, the directorate received a specific piece of information that an attempt would be made to smuggle liquor in the garb of diplomatic cargo ostensibly imported in the name of the Embassy of the State of Palestine. In pursuance, a consignment being imported under exemption certificate No. 3003 dated 10.10.2022 in the name of Mr. Khalil H.A. Ghalyoun, First Secretary, Embassy of the State of Palestine, vide GD No. KAPE-PP-88748-08-12-2022, said to contain household effects, was blocked on 08-12-2022 after the GD was assigned to gate out. In line with the provisions of Article 36 of the Diplomatic and Consular Privileges Act, 1972 read with Article 36(2) of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Islamabad, was requested vide letter dated 09-12-2022 to approach the embassy for sending an authorised representative for joint examination. The MOFA vide letter dated 29-12-2022 requested the embassy to depute a representative for examination on the scheduled date i.e. 2-1-2023. However, no representative of the embassy appeared on the date. The MOFA provided the embassy with the last chance to nominate a representative for examination on 6-1-2023 (copies of two letters attached at Annex-I & II) when again no one from the embassy joined.

According to documents available with The News, eventually, the MOFA vide letter dated 06-01-2023 informed the directorate that the embassy has disowned the consignment and has conveyed that the shipping line wants to re-export the consignment. The MOFA referred the matter to the directorate “to take appropriate action as per Government of Pakistan’s laws/rules/policies”.

The directorate conducted scanning of the consignment which revealed the presence of a huge quantity of bottles. Thereafter, the directorate proceeded with an examination of the container. On the opening of the container, a small quantity of assorted plastic chairs and plastic flowers were found stacked in front of the container behind which 17 pallets consisting of 1,057 cartons of assorted liquor bottles and beer cans were kept having an approximate value of Rs252 million.

It is important to note that a sticker of the Shipping Line “Ocean World Lines International LLC” dated 11/11/22 with BL No. 152112002238 (corresponding with the BL No as on exemption certificate. 3003 dated 10.10.2022) with destination as “Karachi” was found pasted over transparent wrappings of all the pallets. This aspect effectively negates the Shipping Line’s reported claim that the container was “misdirected”.

It is abundantly evident from the examination report that the information was correct and a clandestine attempt to smuggle liquor in the garb of diplomatic cargo has been effectively foiled by the directorate. After examination, the recovered goods were re-stuffed in the container and re-sealed and Musheernama-cum-inventory of the goods prepared on the spot and duly signed by all present. The goods have been seized under Section 168 of the Customs Act 1969. Accordingly, the seizure report has been forwarded for adjudication and criminal proceedings have been initiated.

Director General Customs Intelligence Faiz Ahmed praised the Customs Intelligence Karachi’s performance and instructed other directorates to continue to crack down on smuggling. The DG (I&I) Customs devised an anti-smuggling policy aligned with parameters of transparency and zero-tolerance for smuggling, and pursuing that line, the Directorate (I&I) Customs, Karachi, has revamped its anti-smuggling operations.

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