The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has busted a diesel smuggling racket in the guise of mineral spirit by some operators based in Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh and here, an official statement said on Saturday.
Diesel is a restricted commodity for import as per the Foreign Trade Policy and can be imported only by oil marketing companies.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the Finance Ministry said the diesel was being brought from Dubai in huge quantitites regularly through containers at Chennai Port for further illegal sale in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Searches were carried out by DRI officials in Hyderabad and Chennai with the support of Andhra Pradesh state intelligence at various places in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu from April 17 onwards and it was found that 14 containers imported at Chennai Port in the name of SAF Petroleum and Aditya Marine landed at Sanco Container Freight Station here and Gateway Container Freight Station were found carrying 263.78 ton (around three lakh litres) of diesel but declared as mineral spirit.
The operators based in Kakinada hatched a plan to smuggle diesel as mineral spirit, it said, adding that they not only smuggled in the diesel as mineral spirit but also under declared its value by around 60 per cent and evaded customs duty.
The operators had offices in Kakinada, a storage yard at Maraimalai Nagar here and an office front at Guindy here to facilitate said smuggling and distribution.
A relative of one of the operators from Kakinada was looking after the logistics, moving the diesel into the grey markets in Chennai, Kakinada, Ongole and parts of Telangana, the statement said.
Dummy companies were opened in Dubai to purchase diesel and import the same to Chennai by creating false documents and invoices.
The price difference was being adjusted by payments through hawala channels.
It is found that in the past these operators have smuggled around 5,366 ton (around 63 lakh litres) of diesel valued at around Rs.17.7 crore, which comes to around 285 containers.
Four persons, including the mastermind and one hawala operator have been arrested under Customs Act 1962, the statement said.