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DRI busts drone smuggling racket, kingpin held from Ahmedabad

Press Trust of India  |  Ahmedabad 

An international racket involving smugglers from Pakistan, China, and to import high-end drones (remotely-piloted aircraft) into the country through the north-eastern border, has been busted, the unit of the DRI has said.

While the shipment of drones and other related items, worth Rs 1 crore, was intercepted and seized by the Directorate of (DRI) in March, the Ahmedabad-based mastermind, whose identity was not revealed, was arrested on Thursday, a release by the DRI.

The drones were smuggled into from through It was also revealed that some Pakistan-based smugglers and their firms were also involved in the entire racket.

"After these China-made drones reached from China, these items were then illegally transported across the international border into through Moreh and Imphal," the DRI said.

"Then, these drones were transported to from Imphal using domestic airlines by misdeclaring the prohibited cargo as camera stand, household goods, electronic items, etc to misguide the agencies," it added.

Once in Ahmedabad, the drones were supplied to various locations across the country by using private couriers, the release said.

The money against the smuggled drones were sent by the based smuggler, who has been arrested, to the Chinese company through hawala channels operating out of Mumbai, it added.

While part of the smuggled cargo was seized in March from a mini truck near the air cargo complex at Ahmedabad, another lot was seized from the the kingpin's shop in Paldi area of the city, said the release.

According to the DRI, this racket had been operating from 2017 and thousands of drones valued at over Rs 10 crore and involving duty evasion of nearly Rs 3 crore were smuggled into the country.

The agency said "drones 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, various permissions, including Equipment Type Approval from the and import clearance from of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are required for the import of drones into India, the agency said.

It added that the nature of goods and the involvement of Pakistani and Chinese firms and the specialised nature of smuggling operations with different smugglers handling different segments of the operation "give rise to national security concerns".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 22:06 IST