Smugglers exploit desperate migrants
New Delhi: As Customs officials caught 11 foreign labourers coming back home on Vande Bharat flights with illegal cigarettes worth over Rs 60 lakh, concerns were raised of whether these workers' desperation to come home was being exploited by smugglers during a global pandemic.
Officials here said these workers landed at the IGIA from Dubai and during searches found the foreign cigarettes in their baggage. "So far we came to know that these 11 men, all labourers, were stranded in the foreign country and wanted to return back to India. Smugglers exploited their situation and lured them that if they take these things to India then they will be given flight tickets," an official said.
He added that they were likely supposed to pass the contraband along for further smuggling. "The operation is currently going on at IGIA. Many have landed today from foreign countries and we suspect there could be more who have arrived with contraband," an official said. Most of these labourers were from
Punjab and had emigrated in order to earn money for their families. Traffickers can earn a huge profit by selling these cigarettes in India.
"There is also some unaccompanied baggage lying at the airport which is being checked. We always keep tabs on flights coming from Middle East countries as most smuggling cases have been reported from there," the official said
Meanwhile, on Wednesday evening, Customs (Preventive) officers intercepted a consignment of foreign origin cigarettes, valued at around Rs 12 lakhs, just outside Delhi Airport. "Preliminary investigation suggests that goods had been flown-in using evacuation flight from Dubai."