A total of 113 Metric Tonnes of Areca nuts, worth Rs 3.25 crore was seized at Krishnapatnam Port in Andhra Pradesh by officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) in Nellore and Vijayawada.
The officers of DRI in Nellore and Vijayawada visited Krishnapatnam Port and verified imports made by two importers in eight containers from May 10 May to 12 May. The verification was based on specific intelligence relating to illegal imports of areca nuts into the country, by concealing with copra expeller cake (cover cargo), a DRI statement said here on Wednesday.
On detailed investigation, it was found that the importers declared 156 MT of "Coconut Expeller Cake" for import into the country. However, only 43 Mt was as per the declared cargo. Remaining 113 MT was actually areca nuts of 90/95 grade of Indonesian Origin on which customs duty evaded worked out to Rs 3.25 crore.
Areca nuts attract 100 per cent Customs duty and its value is far higher than Coconut Expeller Cake.
The DRI statement further disclosed that the first two rows in the containers were loaded with Coconut Expeller Cake and the remaining rows were loaded with Areca nuts when the containers were examined. It appears that that the importers were using "Coconut Expeller Cake" as a cover cargo to illegally import areca nuts.
The masterminds were intercepted in Kerala with help of Cochin Police, CGST officers of Cochin and DRI officers of Cochin. It is noticed that in the past also the said importers have resorted to this kind of modus and smuggled in about 150 MT of Areca nuts.
As the Areca nuts have been attempted to be smuggled into India in violation of provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 the same were seized under Customs Act, 1962. Further investigation is in progress.
(With inputs from agency)