DRI busts drone smuggling racket, kingpin held

DRI busts drone smuggling racket, kingpin held

Ahmedabad: An international racket involving smugglers from Pakistan, China, Myanmar and India to import high-end drones (remotely-piloted aircraft) into the country through the north-eastern border, has been busted, the Ahmedabad unit of the DRI has said.

While the shipment of drones and other related items, worth Rs 1 crore, was intercepted and seized by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in March, the Ahmedabad-based mastermind, whose identity was not revealed, was arrested on Thursday, a release by the DRI.

The drones were smuggled into India from China through Myanmar. It was also revealed that some Pakistan-based smugglers and their firms were also involved in the entire racket.

"After these China-made drones reached Myanmar from China, these items were then illegally transported across the international border into India through Moreh and Imphal," the DRI said.

"Then, these drones were transported to Ahmedabad from Imphal using domestic airlines by wrongly declaring the prohibited cargo as a camera stand, household goods, electronic items, etc to misguide the agencies," it added.

Once in Ahmedabad, the drones were supplied to various locations across the country by using private couriers, the release said.

The money against the smuggled drones was sent by the Ahmedabad based smuggler, who has been arrested, to the Chinese company through hawala channels operating out of Mumbai, it added.

While part of the smuggled cargo was seized in March from a mini truck near the air cargo complex at Ahmedabad, another lot was seized from the kingpin's shop in Paldi area of the city, said the release.

According to the DRI, this racket had been operating from 2017 and thousands of drones valued at over Rs 10 crore and involving duty evasion of nearly Rs 3 crore were smuggled into the country.

The agency said, "drones can pose a threat to national security as they can be used for espionage and sabotage purposes by the enemy States and anti-national and terrorist groups".



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