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The Great Spice Caper: Unraveling a Multimillion-Dollar Theft Scheme "Inside the Bust: How Three Individuals Orchestrated the Theft of Black Pepper and Betel Nuts Worth $192,000"

Mintec Global
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Three Detained in Connection with Theft

Recently, authorities from the Panvel police department in Navi Mumbai made a breakthrough in a case involving the alleged theft of black pepper and betel nuts worth over $192,000. These items were stored in a warehouse awaiting clearance of customs duties.

Investigations have pointed towards the involvement of three individuals who were apprehended in connection with a broader network. Collaborating with several fugitives, they purportedly orchestrated a scheme involving the importation of goods via ships. Storing them in custom-bonded warehouses, pilfering them, and subsequently selling them in the market sans payment of customs duties. Thus causing financial ramifications for the government.

The trio in custody has been identified as Sanjay Sable, Alwyn Saklana, and Prasad Kurhade, hailing from Panvel, Pune, and Nerul, respectively. They were taken into custody earlier this month following allegations of conspiracy and theft filed by the Panvel City police.

Operational Strategy and Probe

A customs official reported the theft of black pepper and betel nuts worth $192,720 from the warehouse, which was pending customs duty clearance. These commodities belonged to three companies: Alpha Industries, Highland International Company, and Future Fast International.

While the proprietors of these firms remain undisclosed, investigations unveiled that the arrested individuals and their collaborators, who remain at large, merely initiated import orders. They purportedly conspired to smuggle the goods into the country without fulfilling customs duties and subsequently peddled them in the market.
According to revelations, Kurhade operated under the instructions of an importer who allegedly orchestrated the entire operation. Sable and Saklana, who operate a logistics firm, were allegedly approached under the guise of lucrative commissions. They were tasked with leasing a 15,000 sq. ft. warehouse, subsequently converted into a customs bonded facility by October 2022.

Confiscation and Substitution

The consignment arrived at Nhava Sheva port in December 2022. Kurhade, acting as an intermediary, purportedly claimed non-payment of customs duties. And expressed a desire to house the goods in the warehouse owned by Sable and Saklana. Following the presentation of a space certificate by the warehouse operators, the goods were stored therein.

“In the same month, goods valued at approximately $76,000, belonging to Alpha Industries, were reported stolen,” stated Assistant Police Inspector Rahul Lokhande. “To avoid raising suspicions, the accused group allegedly substituted the pilfered goods with sacks. Resembling the originals, albeit filled with papers.”