A magistrate’s court in Mumbai has sent an importer who was arrested for importing drugs with oranges to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence(DRI) custody for five days.
The importer was sent to custody after the DRI said that they needed to identify and apprehend key associates and find out further the modus operandi in one of the country’s largest drug seizures.
The Mumbai unit of DRI, on a tip-off, recovered 198.1 kg of crystal methamphetamine and 9 kg of high-purity cocaine, worth Rs 1,476 crore, in a truck.
The entire seizure was done between September 30 and October 1. The importer of the oranges, Vigin Verghese (33), was arrested on October 2.
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Verghese is reportedly the managing director of Yummito International Foods India Pvt Ltd. Verghese, in his statement, said that the company imported a variety of fruits from South Africa, Brazil, Turkey and other countries.
Sethna pointed to Verghese’s statement that his company had imported oranges from More Fresh Exports SA Pty Ltd, which operated from Johannesburg in South Africa.
The DRI said the drugs were concealed in boxes carrying Valencia oranges. Inside some of the cartons, below the oranges, some rectangular-shaped small boxes which had the drugs were found.
The boxes were on the truck which was intercepted at Vashi.
Special Public Prosecutor Advait Sethna, representing the central agency, said that the drugs found were of commercial quantity.
“This order was not based on any agreement but on WhatsApp messages. Some of the consignment’s delivery did not have invoices,” said Sethna.
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“No E-way bill was generated for the movement of the oranges as fresh fruits are exempted from GST,” Sethna added.
Sethna submitted before the court that “it is clearly evident that an ingenious modus operandi is being adopted to smuggle contraband, narcotic and psychotropic substances into India by concealing such drugs in oranges so that the same escape attention of the Authorities and attempt to smuggle such drugs is thereby successfully carried out. Appears to be a case of illegal import.”
Sethna further submitted that “the fact that no purchase order was placed for the said consignment, again at the time of local delivery, no invoice was raised for this consignment of 320 cartons of oranges and no formal agreement with an overseas supplier clearly indicates that the accused is trying to avoid all the compliance which are necessary for the transparent functioning of any business.”
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