Gutkha, tobacco products worth lakhs seized

Third bust by Crime Branch in six days; all vehicles had permission to transport essential commodities

The Mumbai Police Crime Branch’s crackdown on smuggling of prohibited products could blow the lid off a larger racket involving misuse of government-issued passes for heavy vehicles. In the third such incident this month, the Crime Branch has seized gutkha and tobacco products, this time from a vehicle with permission to transport groceries and water.

The racket was busted after police inspector Sunil Mane, in charge of Unit X, received a tip-off and conducted a raid near Malik Compound in Chandivali on Tuesday. The police team searched a truck parked outside the compound and found 12 sacks of gutkha and scented supari containing tobacco. Transport of both are currently prohibited due to the nationwide lockdown.

“The truck’s windshield had a sticker saying it had permission to transport groceries and water in the lockdown. The total value of the seized goods is ₹11.8 lakh,” said a Crime Branch officer.

The Unit X arrested Akash Gupta (28), a resident of Mohili village in Saki Naka who was minding the truck, and charged him under the Food Safety Act and the Disaster Management Act. He has been remanded in police custody till May 16. The police have identified as least two others who were part of the racket. Efforts are on to trace and apprehend them, officers said.

This is the third such raid, and the second by Unit X. On May 8, the Unit X had seized contraband worth ₹ 28 lakh from Shivaji Nagar, while on Monday, Unit XI had seized gutkha and pan masala worth ₹39.65 lakh. In both cases, heavy vehicles with stickers of permission to transport essential commodities were used to smuggle the prohibited goods.

“After every seizure, we send a detailed report to the government. We are looking into the larger aspects of the racket, like the supply chain and the network involved,” Mr. Mane said.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 12:42:56 PM |

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