Arms seizure probe gets underway

via Pioneer published on January 10, 2007

KOCHI: Investigation by the Kerala police on the arms seizure at Cochin Port on Tuesday has begun with Additional DGP Jacob Punnose leading the team. The police is presently probing the background of the materials and also investigating the activities of the importers.

Assisting the ADGP are senior police officials including South Zone IG Arun Kumar Sinha and IG NC Sathna who is considered an expert in arms inspection.

No arrests have so far been made. RO Koya, the person from Chavakkad whose house was raided by a joint team of Central Excise and police has disappeared and a red alert has been sounded at all international airports as officials fear that he may leave the country. While the raid on his premises did not uncover much, rumours abound after his mysterious disappearance. During the raid the team unearthed sacks of Chinese goods which included fancy items and toys but the investigating officers are tight lipped on the actual seizures.

Highly placed sources with Central intelligence agencies however told The Pioneer that some senior Customs officers are under the scanner. According to these officers a senior Customs officer whose name has been associated with several smugglers including Hilal Mohammed, considered the kingpin of the smuggling racket of the State is under the scanner of the central agencies.

This official had a poor track record while he was serving in Kozhikode airport as also the Nedumbassery airport and he has recently joined duty in the Export House of Cochin Port. The officials with the Central agency said that they have not yet drawn any conclusions but that these are the initial suspicions and the investigation is clearly gaining momentum.

Agencies are of the opinion that this modus operandi would have been employed earlier and that contraband would have been cleared through this route. The Central agencies have concluded that the security level of the port is below par. According to senior officials they had given the report on the same to the departments concerned much earlier.

It is also learnt that secret raids were conducted on arms and ammunition traders and the State police is ascertaining the volume of business that they are conducting.

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