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1,264 mobile phones and nine bottles of liquor recovered from PIA staff

27 November, 2015

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KARACHI: Acting on a tip-off, the customs authorities caught a Pakistan International Airlines staffer at the airport and recovered 1,264 mobile phones and nine bottles of liquor being smuggled into the country, registered a case against him and obtained his remand on Thursday.

The customs sleuths suspecting that the alleged smuggler was not acting alone have started investigations and are looking for his partners / helpers in the racket to unearth the entire smuggling chain.

Speaking at a press conference at the airport, customs additional collector Dr Tahir Qureshi said that this was the largest contraband consignment of mobile phones worth between Rs80 million and Rs90 million caught at the Jinnah International Airport.

He said that the smuggled goods were on board a PIA flight PK-502, which originated from Sharjah (the UAE) and then landed at Turbat in Balochistan, where the border control formalities were held and then the flight was converted into a domestic one and it proceeded to Karachi.

Since it reached Karachi as a domestic flight, there were hardly any stringent customs checks, he added.

However, the suspect, Fida Hussain, with a bag, was intercepted at the arrival hall of Karachi airport and when he could not satisfactorily answer the queries of the customs staffers, they checked his bag and found nine bottles of liquor. The customs staffers also recovered five baggage tags during his body search.

He said that as all the passengers had left, there still remained six bags on the baggage conveyor belt. The checking of the bags led to the recovery of 1,264 mobile phones. An FIR has been registered against Fida Hussain, an employee of the PIA.

He was arrested and presented before the special judge (customs and taxation) Karachi and a 10-day remand was obtained to carry out further investigations on Thursday, the official added.

Dr Qureshi said that further investigations regarding involvement of PIA staff and other unscrupulous elements in the case were in progress.

Briefing the media, customs deputy collector Amjad Leghari said that these goods had been brought in from Sharjah and at Turbat airport these were supposed to be taken out from the aircraft to pass customs checking and then brought back to the aircraft after clearance of other luggage.

However, it seemed that these bags were never taken out of the cargo hold and the tags which were put on them in Sharjah were removed and other tags were put on them in Turbat to show that these were coming from a domestic town so no customs was required, the official added.

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