DRI nabs mastermind of drone smuggling racket

This racket is said to have been active since 2017 and “thousands of drones” worth over 10 crores have already been smuggled for the past two years

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Ahmedabad on Thursday arrested a photography studio owner for allegedly smuggling drones from China with the help of “smugglers from Pakistan and Myanmar.” 

The DRI officials said that the accused, identified as Chinmay, a resident of Paldi, was allegedly smuggling high-end drones through an “international smuggling racket” and was one of the masterminds of this racket. 

This racket is said to have been active since 2017 and “thousands of drones” worth over 10 crores have already been smuggled for the past two years. Through legal channels, the import of these drones would have fetched Rs 3 crore in customs duty.

The officials said in a release that “In this racket, Pakistan-based firms placed order for supply of drones with Chinese firms. The drones were supplied by Chinese firms to a warehouse in Dehong, Yunnan, China which is located in South China close to the Eastern border of Myanmar. From Dehong in China, the Myanmarese smugglers were tasked with getting them to and across the China – Myanmar international border into Myanmar. Once in Myanamar, these drones were transported hundreds of kms to a place called Tamu in Myanamar.”

They said that from Tamu in Myanmar they were transported across the international border into India through Moreh and then to Imphal, capital of Manipur. 

From Imphal, the smugglers carried the drones through domestic airlines by declaring the cargo as camera stands, household goods, electronic items, among others to dodge the security agencies.

According to officials, once the consignment would reach Ahmedabad, they would be supplied to various places in the country using private courier firms. Officials said that the accused used to send money to Chinese firms through hawala channels active in Mumbai.

“Illegal drones in private hands can pose a threat to National Security as they can 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 (ETA) from WPC (Wireless Planning and Co-ordination) Wing of Department of Telecommunication, import
clearance from DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation), DGFT Import Licence, DGCA UIN (Unique Identification Number) etc. are required for import of Drones into India,” the release stated.

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