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DRI unravels global racket in drones smuggling

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Ahmedabad, May 17, 2019-

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Ahmedabad has busted, what it claims to be, an international racket involving smugglers from Pakistan, China, Myanmar and India teaming up to import high-end drones into Indian heartland through the northeastern border of India.

The DRI stated in a release on Thursday that its officials rounded up the alleged Ahmedabad-based mastermind of the racket and he has admitted the offences.

The agency said the racket had been going on since 2017 and thousands of drones valued at over Rs 10 crore and involving duty evasion of around Rs 3 crore have been smuggled into India.

The DRI has been able to intercept and seize 85 high-end drones of DJI Mavic, DJI Phantom and MI brands. Besides, 27 DJI Mavic Air Fly More Kit and 34 DJI Ronin S hand-held gimbal stabilizer for DSLR and mirrorless camera, smuggled from China, having a market value of more than Rs 1 crore, were also seized from the tempo van that was carrying the smuggled goods from Air Cargo Complex, Ahmedabad and from the shop of the allegedly involved person in Paldi area of Ahmedabad.

According to DRI, Pakistani-based firms placed an order for drones with Chinese firms. The drones were supplied by Chinese firms to a warehouse in Dehong, Yunnan located in South China and is close to the eastern border of Myanmar. From Dehong, the Myanmar smugglers were tasked to get them across China-Myanmar border into Myanmar.

After the drones reached Myanmar, they were transported hundreds of kilometres away to a place called Tamu in Mayanmar. From there, it was transported to India through Moreh and on to Imphal.

Different modes of transport were used to reach the drones till Imphal. And from Imphal, domestic airlines were used to get the drones to Ahmedabad. This was done by declaring the prohibited cargo as camera stand, household goods, electronic items and so on to elude detection by Indian agencies, the DRI release stated.

From Ahmedabad, it was couriered to different locations in India. The money was sent to the Ahmedabad-based “smuggler” by the Chinese company through hawala transaction operating from Mumbai.

According to the DRI, the illegal drones in private hands could be a threat to national security since they could be used for espionage and sabotage purposes by the enemy states and anti-national and terrorist groups.

Considering the security risk involved, equipment type approval from wireless planning and coordination wing of the department of telecommunication, import clearance from Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Directorate General of Foreign Trade import licence, DGCA unique identification number, among other things, are required for the import of drones into India, the DRI stated.  (Agency)

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