COVID-19: Mumbai Police seize 25L masks worth Rs 15 cr

COVID-19: Mumbai Police seize 25 lakh masks worth up to Rs 15 crore

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In a major pre-dawn swoop, the Mumbai police on Monday seized 25 lakh masks valued between Rs 14 to 15 crore. This is one of the biggest seizures of masks in India in terms of numbers and value.

Three truckloads of masks were seized from Mumbai and neighbouring Thane district.

"This is a big seizure," Home Minister Anil Deshmukh told reporters.

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The operations were overseen by Mumbai Police Chief Param Bir Singh and the was conducted by a team led by Senior Inspector Mahesh Desai of Unit-9 of Crime Branch-CID.
Four persons have been arrested, police officials said. "While four persons have been arrested, the police are on the lookout for two absconders," said Deshmukh.

"The masks were being hoarded by the gang and were intended for sale in the black market. The seizure includes over 3.5 lakh N-49 masks, plus others of different varieties,” Deshmukh said.

Also Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases

According to him, because of the outbreak of COVID-19, there was a shortage of masks and the seizure would ease the problems somewhat. The seizure came after a tip-off received by Singh last week.

Desai, who posed as a decoy customer, sealed a deal and finally managed to bust the gang by raiding locations in Mumbai and Thane.

The four accused have been remanded to police custody till March 27.

The state's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently banned the sale of the N95 respirators without prescriptions after the government received complaints of hoarding and panic-buying by the people.

Widening the scope of investigations, the police is also probing whether the masks were to be exported out through air cargo.

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