Large consignments of mobile phones without a valid mandatory 15-digit International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number are suspected to have been smuggled into the country from China through the sea route.

According to sources, unscrupulous wholesalers engaged in large-scale procurement of such mobile phones remain in direct contact with suppliers who manufacture handsets as per “specifications” right down to a particular model or brand. These sets, which are available at cheaper rates than popular brands, flaunt almost every imaginable feature including television.

The consignments imported in containers are transported to wholesalers through some courier services.

“The IMEI numbers in these mobile phones are implanted using the ‘Spiderman Box’ software. But now it has become difficult to do so in certain mobile phone brands,” says a police officer, adding that strict measures have been taken to prevent use of such mobile phones.

“The realisation that mobile phones which work with implanted IMEI numbers are dangerous for national security came while investigating the Mehrauli blast in September 2008 when we found that a particular IMEI was in use by different mobile sets from various locations at a particular time. It became impossible for us to trace the people using such mobile phones,” said a police officer, adding that the matter was subsequently taken up with higher-ups.

The police suspect that wholesalers have also supplied these sets to small-time businessmen in different parts of the country.

Among those arrested in Karol Bagh here this week during raids at 23 shops, Ravi Kant and Javed are alleged to be the masterminds behind the racket.

“We suspect that a large number of such phones are still available in the grey market and hence the raids will continue,” said the police officer.

The accused have been to China to meet the suppliers, said Delhi police sources.

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