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India, Sri Lanka hold talks on smuggling

IndSLtiesIndia and Sri Lanka resolved to strengthen co-operation in preventing the smuggling of golddrugsfake Indian currency notes (FICN), wildlife, and other contraband across their route, and to address trade-related issues such as ‘Country of Origin’ frauds that impact the revenue of both nations, in a meeting held on February 22 and 23.

The two-day meeting, which was held after ten years, focused on many areas of mutual interest to combat smuggling and improve trade facilitation by use of data analytics, new investigation techniques, inter-agency coordination, and capacity building.

Debi Prasad Dash, the Director General of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), and P.S.M. Charles, the Director General of Sri Lanka Customs, discussed the modalities of joint co-ordination committee for investigative assistance under the Customs Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement (CMAA), which was entered into between the two countries in 2015.

They also discussed various issues relating to trade facilitation, automation, enforcement and Joint Working Group on data sharing.

In 2016-17, DRI had effected seizures of gold in seven cases, weighing 54 kilograms, valued at about Rs 16 crore, smuggled from Sri Lanka into India through the sea route using country boats and cleared after landing on the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu.

In 2017-18, 80 kilograms of gold smuggled in a similar manner, valued at about Rs 24 crore, and has so far been seized by DRI in eight cases.

Recently, on February 21, DRI seized 130 pieces of gold with foreign markings, weighing 19.2 kilograms, valued at Rs 6.1 crores, at Mimisal, a small coastal village in Tamil Nadu, which was smuggled from Sri Lanka using a country boat.

The coastal route was also used by drug traffickers, in January 2017.

After extensive surveillance, Indian Customs officers seized six kilograms of heroin from a boat near Tuticorin. After apprehending three Indians who were attempting to smuggle the heroin by sea, the officers ventured into the sea in disguise and nabbed the Sri Lankan buyers in mid-sea in a risky operation.

Apart from gold and narcotics, wildlife such as exotic turtles of central and north-east Indian origin and various marine species, are also being smuggled between the two countries by sea.

Smuggling of foreign currency is also a shared concern, and both countries have seized large quantities of foreign currency in recent times.

In today’s meeting, it was agreed to hold regular meetings to exchange information to effectively combat smuggling between the two countries. (ANI)

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