DRI busts international racket of smuggling of Drones involving smugglers from Pakistan, China, Myanamar and India – arrests kingpin in Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence ( DRI) Ahmedabad has busted an international racket involving smugglers from Pakistan, China,Myanamar and India joining together to import High End Drones (Remotely Piloted Aircrafts) into Indian heartland through the north Eastern border of India and arrested its kingpin in Ahmedabad.

The racket had been going on from 2017 onwards and thousands of drones valued at over Rs 10 crores and involving duty evasion of nearly 3 crores were smuggled into the country by it.

The Ahmedabad based mastermind was arrested by DRI today and he has admitted to the offences. The nature of goods and the involvement of Pakistani and Chinese firms, the specialised nature of smuggling operations with different smugglers handling different segments of the operation give rise to national security concerns.

A DRI official today said 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 kilometres to a place called Tamu in Myanamar. From Tamu they were transported across the international border into India through Moreh and on to Imphal.

‘While all transportation up to Imphal used to be by various modes of road transport, the final leg of the journey from Imphal to Ahmedabad used to be done by using domestic airlines by mis-declaring the prohibited cargo as camera stand, household goods, electronic items etc to elude detection by Indian agencies.

Once in Ahmedabad, the drones were supplied to various locations across the country by using private couriers. The money against the smuggled drones were sent by the Ahmedabad based smuggler to the Chinese company through hawala channels operating out of Mumbai,’ he added.

He said that DRI officers have been able to intercept and seize 85 high end Drones of DJI Mavic, DJI Phantom and MI Brands. Besides, 27 DJI Mavic Air Fly More Kit and 34 DJI Ronin S Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer for DSLR and Mirrorless Camera (used in film shootings) and smuggled from China having market value of more than Rs. 1 crore on March 10 this year from the tempo which was carrying the said smuggled goods from Air Cargo Complex, Ahmedabad and from the shop premises of the said person in Paldi, Ahmedabad. 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.

He said that 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. T
DRI investigations continue and all aspects are being looked into.