Details of ingenious smuggling racket lie buried in FIR since 2018

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch’s investigation into the 2018 assault case against gangsters Tariq Parveen and Salim Maharaj has unearthed a well-organised and ingenious gold smuggling racket allegedly going on for several years.

Mr. Parveen and Mr. Maharaj, both aides of gangster Ejaz Lakdawala, were booked for assaulting a woman and her brother in their Pydhonie residence in 2018. Two hours after it was registered, the case was transferred to the MRA Marg police station without any proper explanation. The Crime Branch took over the case earlier this month and found no progress in the case in the past two years.

The modus operandi of the smuggling operation came to light when the Crime Branch was examining the FIR documents in which the woman who was assaulted has given specific details of the racket. However, the MRA Marg police did not probe the smuggling angle nor did it invoke the Customs Act in the case.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Santosh Rastogi confirmed to The Hindu that the Crime Branch, apart from the assault allegations against Mr. Parveen and Mr. Maharaj, is also investigating the smuggling racket. “Our inquiries into the smuggling operation are under way and appropriate action will be taken,” Mr. Rastogi said.

A Crime Branch officer said, “Inquiries conducted so far reveal that couriers were flown to Dubai by Mr. Parveen, who headed the racket. The gold that was to be smuggled to India was treated with some chemical which would turn it into a jelly form and fused with clothes, mostly undergarments, which would be worn by the couriers. The chemicals also help hide certain properties of gold, as long as it was in jelly form, making it possible to evade detection by baggage or body scanners,”

On landing in Mumbai, the couriers would meet the receivers and head to a pre-decided location, usually the nearest hotel or public rest room, and hand over the gold-fused undergarments to the receiver. These would then be taken to select gold jewellery manufacturing workshops in Zaveri Bazaar, where the gold would be separated and turned back into solid form. Sources said that in her statement, the woman has admitted that she was assaulted by Mr. Parveen and Mr. Maharaj because the weight of the gold extracted in India did not match that picked up from Dubai.

“The racket was active till the time Mr. Parveen was arrested. The woman alone claims to have made several trips for him. Obviously, multiple couriers were used as the same person cannot make too many trips within a short span of time without attracting undue attention,” the officer said.

Sources said while Mr. Parveen would handle the operations part of the racket, Mr. Maharaj, who had contacts in the police as he was also an informer, would handle any trouble with the authorities.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2020 2:01:22 AM |

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