Logs of red sanders weighing 110 kg were seized from three Chinese nationals at the Nedumbassery international airport here early on Sunday morning.
The Air Intelligence Unit of the Customs Department here seized the logs and foreign and Indian currency, all worth around Rs. 24 lakh, from Zheng Yibi, Li Jianzhou, and Zhang Yuanyang.
Foreign currencies comprising US $ 17,000 and Chinese Yuan 26,000, and Rs.6 lakh were recovered from the hand baggage of the passengers.
Customs officials said the three Chinese nationals, who hail from Fujian province in China, had arrived separately on tourist visas over a week ago. They had travelled from Delhi to Bangalore, and then to Kochi by car.
Operating as carriers
They had tickets for Sunday’s 12.50 a.m. flight from Kochi to Malaysia and were carrying the red sanders in four bags checked in. While carrying out routine check for explosives and contraband, security personnel became suspicious over the weight of the bags and pulled them aside for screening.
Customs officials said the detained persons informed them that they were operating as carriers for a Delhi-based person.
First such instance
They allegedly made Rs.30,000 per consignment of 40 kg of red sanders. The seized sanders appeared to have been procured from Karnataka, Customs officials said. Among other things, red sanders are also used to produce high-end cosmetics in China. Customs Deputy Commissioner S.A.S. Navaz said this was the first time red sanders were seized from the airport.
He said the seizure was facilitated by the team effort of the department officials, airport security staff, and personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force. “The X-ray technicians at the airport are on the lookout for explosives as well as foreign currency, gold, or other contraband items being smuggled in or out of the country. The CISF personnel are also extremely vigilant,” he said.