No proof of weapon smuggling found; Commission submits report in SC

KARACHI: A commission, established by the Apex Court, has found no proof of arms smuggling from Karachi port.

The Supreme Court set up the commission headed by former Member Customs Ramzan Bhatti to probe into the matter of disappearance of Nato weapon shipments from Karachi port after the director general Rangers had told the court on August 30 that around 19,000 containers, loaded with weapons and vehicles, had gone missing during the tenure of a former minister for ports and shipping.

The commission, in its 15-page report, told the Supreme Court that the DG Rangers did not give any evidence to substantiate his claim. The sources said that most of the disappeared containers were loaded with goods for Afghan transit trade and just a few hundred containers linked to Nato.

The commission also rejected any impression that the investigation was influenced by the US embassy. Earlier, US official, in a statement, also denied that any Nato containers had gone missing from the Karachi port.

It was also admitted in the report that due to lack of proper facilities, the Customs Department cannot check every instance of smuggling. The commission, however, rejected link of Karachi’s poor law and order situations with the workings of the Customs Department.

Anti-smuggling wing confiscates 512 computer LCDs

LAHORE: Lahore Model Customs Collectorate anti-smuggling wing on Wednesday seized at least 512 non-duty paid Computer LCDs at Faizpur Interchange.

Official source said that a team of anti-smuggling wing on a tip-off raided a Mazda truck and confiscated 512 computer LCDs worth Rs 25 lakh market value.

Source said that LCDs were being smuggled from Peshawar to a Lahore market.

According to source, a case under Customs Act has been registered against the responsible.

Hong Kong customs net 135 boxes of copycat mooncakes

HONG KONG: Customs officers are no strangers to counterfeit red wine and pork luncheon meat. But as the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches next week. They have seized their first mooncakes bearing the forged trademark of a traditional bakery in Yuen Long.

The Hang Heung Cake Shop is the latest brand to fall victim to counterfeiters after 135 boxes of double-yolk white lotus seed paste mooncakes were seized from a cosmetics and beauty centre in Yuen Long.

Officers arrested the proprietor of the centre, a 50-year-old woman, on suspicion of selling mooncakes bearing fake labels to her clients.

The haul was believed to have been produced on the mainland and was worth about HK$20,000, the Customs and Excise Department said.

Michael Kwan Yuk-kwan, operations chief of customs’ intellectual property investigation group, said the ingredients of the fake Hang Heung snack were of a low quality but were not harmful to health, according to tests.

“The egg yolk in the real product is very big and tastes good, but is very small and rather dry in the fake mooncake,” he said.

The counterfeit product has a description of the ingredients printed on the metal box and the fireworks pattern on the lid is badly done.

A genuine box of Hang Heung double-yolk white lotus seed paste mooncakes sells for about HK$200, but the fakes are priced at only HK$120.

Kwan believed a very limited quantity had been sold in Hong Kong for the festival, which falls on September 19.

“Our investigation shows the suspect had just started selling them,” he said. “It is the first time mooncakes bearing a fake label have been seized in the city.”

The woman has been released on bail and has not been charged.

Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance people who sell goods bearing a forged trademark face a jail term of up to five years and a HK$500,000 fine.

All inquiries about falsely labelled mooncakes should be directed to the customs hotline on 2545 6182.

Navy officer held in Sri Lanka over people smuggling

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police have arrested a navy officer suspected of involvement in smuggling people in fishing boats to Australia.

Australia announced tough new measures in mid-July to discourage illegal boatpeople. Since then, local police have apprehended three boats and detained 300 Sri Lankans, including 56 women and 93 children.

The Sri Lankan officer was taken into custody following the discovery of 73 would-be illegal immigrants in a trawler off the island’s southern coast six weeks ago, a police officer said.

Four navy sailors were taken into custody last month following the trawler’s interception. But Lieutenant Commander Sanjeewa Annatugoda is the most senior officer to be arrested in connection with people smuggling, police said.

A navy official, who declined to be named, confirmed the officer’s arrest, and said internal investigations were underway. The latest arrest of a navy officer is an embarrassment for Colombo which has maintained that there is no senior level official collusion with people smugglers.

Australia has said it will transfer all asylum seekers to impoverished Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Even if their asylum claims succeed, they will not be settled in Australia. But Sri Lankan officials said the announcement did not appear to be a deterrent for many Sri Lankans hoping to start a new life in Australia.

Australia has been supporting efforts by Sri Lanka’s navy to improve its ability to detect people-smuggling boats.

Indian Customs arrests man with 1kg cocaine in stomach

MUMBAI: The Indian customs officials have arrested a Ghana national at Mumbai’s international airport for allegedly trying to smuggle 1kg of cocaine into the city.

According to assistant commissioner of Customs, Rishi Yadav, the accused had filled the cocaine in 76 capsules, which were found in his stomach at the time of his arrest. The cocaine is said to be bought from Latin Americans.

The accused has only been identified as Mubarak, who as per his passport details, has come to the city for the first time. Mubarak left Brazil and landed in Dubai, from where he took another flight to Mumbai.

Mubarak was stopped by air intelligence unit, that during his X-ray screening, spotted a lot of capsules in his stomach. Mubarak broke down and confessed thereafter. Using him, the Customs officials have also arrested another accused from the city, who was to help Mubarak in circulating the drugs.

Customs intelligence detains 5 busses full of illegal goods

LAHORE: Customs Intelligence and Investigation has detained five buses loaded with illegal goods worth millions of rupees.

Sources said that the busses were en route from Peshawar to Lahore when a team of Customs Intelligence nabbed the drivers of the busses and confiscated illegal foreign-made cloth, antibiotic medicines, auto parts, shampoos and miscellaneous goods worth Rs 15 million.

Sources said that the information of the illegal consignment was transmitted five days ago, however, the culprits changed the schedule for delivery of the goods. The Customs officials are further investigating the case.

Smuggled goods worth Rs 3.5 seized

LAHORE: Anti-smuggling scout number 1 seized miscellaneous goods worth Rs 3.5 million.

Customs Anti-smuggling scout number 1 on a tip-off raided a truck full of various smuggled items including Aluminum Foil Paper 680 kgs, 2200 boxes of Indian bangles, auto parts and miscellaneous goods worth Rs 3.5 millions.

Official sources said the scout raided the truck at Faizpur Interchange and seized it after getting sufficient evidences.

The scout, consisting eleven constables and three inspectors following thorough examination confiscated the vehicle under Customs Act and registered a case against the culprits.

Sources said that the truck was smuggling the goods and articles from Peshawar to Lahore’s Misri Shah market.

NZ Customs nets wildlife smuggler with fish in pants

WELLINGTON: A Vietnamese man’s attempt to smuggle tropical fish into New Zealand in his pants floundered when he tried to get through customs with his pockets dripping water, officials said. The man arrived at Auckland airport from Australia and officials suspected something was fishy because liquid was seeping from the bulging pockets of his cargo pants.

The man initially said he was carrying water from the plane because he was thirsty but a subsequent grilling uncovered the presence of the fish. It said the man had seven fish, all an unidentified species of cichlid, secreted away in two plastic bags in his pockets.

An official said the man will face charges, which carries maximum penalties of five years’ jail or a NZ$100,000 fine.

Thailand seizes 100kg of ivory from Africa

BANGKOK: Thai customs said they had arrested two Vietnamese air passengers after finding more than 100kg of ivory in their luggage on a flight from Angola.

The haul, which included whole tusks, ivory beads and shaped cubes which could be used for carving, was worth around $500,000, customs.

It was found in luggage belonging to a Vietnamese man and woman who had arrived in Bangkok on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from the Angolan capital Luanda, a customs statement said.

The pair was due to fly on to neighbouring Cambodia, but failed to report to the gate for their connecting journey after the discovery was made. “They were later detained in the airport and then charged with smuggling banned items,” the statement said.

Thailand is a known transit point for ivory, much of it destined for rich buyers in China or Vietnam where it is used in traditional medicine or as ornaments. Africa has seen a sharp rise in the illegal trade in wildlife products such as ivory and rhino horn.

Up to 30,000 African elephants were poached for their ivory last year and a record 668 South African rhinos were killed for their horns, according to conservationists.

Thailand has come under the spotlight in recent months over its role in the ivory trade. Campaigners have urged the kingdom to end its legal domestic tusk trade, which they say enables criminals to launder illegal African ivory in the country.

Sri Lankan customs makes largest drug bust in South Asia

ORUGODAWATTA: Sri Lankan customs officials have made largest-ever drug bust of South Asia by seizing more than 100kg of heroin.

It is believed the container loaded with drugs had been brought down from Pakistan.

Meanwhile, police said two suspects who allegedly imported the container have been arrested. It added the drug bust was the result of a two month long investigation by the police Narcotics Bureau, which had identified a person, suspected of smuggling drugs into the country through containers. Police had then written to customs informing of a suspicious container imported by this individual, and action had been taken to hold the container and inspect it thoroughly.

It said around 120kg of heroin have so far been found packed into tins of grease inside the container.