Nellore: Based on specific intelligence relating to illegal import of areca nuts into the country, by concealing them with copra expeller cake (cover cargo), officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Nellore and Vijayawada, visited Krishnapatnam port and verified imports made by two importers in eight containers between May 10 and May 12, 2020.
On detailed examination, it was found that the importers declared 156 MT of “coconut expeller cake” for import into the country. However, only 43 MT is as per the declared cargo, i.e, coconut expeller cake”.
The remaining 113 MT is actually areca nuts of 90/95 grade of Indonesian origin on which customs duty was evaded to the tune of Rs 3.25 crore.
Areca nuts attract customs duty of 100% and its value is far higher than coconut expeller cake. When the containers were examined, first two rows in the containers were loaded with coconut expeller cake and the remaining rows were loaded with areca nuts. Hence, it appears that the importers used 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 was noticed that in the past also, the said importers have resorted to this kind of modus operandi and smuggled about 150 MT of areca nuts.
As attempts to smuggle areca nuts into the country were done in contravention of provisions of the Customs Act, 1962, they were seized. Further investigation is on.