Iranian saffron worth Rs 47 lakh seized at Chennai airport

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CHENNAI: Customs officials at on Sunday seized 19.75kg of Iranian saffron, worth Rs 47.4 lakh, from a passenger who arrived here from Dubai.
Shahul Hameed Maricar, 25, who arrived here in an Emirates flight, was intercepted at the exit of arrival hall as he appeared to be nervous and was walking in a suspicious manner.
On questioning, he was evasive in his replies and appeared shaky. His checked-in baggage comprising one black stroller bag and one carton box was examined.
Eight green bundles — containing 40 small packets of 25 gram of saffron each — were found in the baggage.
When the inside zipper of the stroller bag was opened, gold foils weighing 103 gram, worth Rs 3.4 lakh, were found wrapped around the stroller handles.
The carton box was found to contain 12 green bundles of saffron containing 470 small packets of 25 gram each.
In total, 19.75kg of Grade I Iranian saffron, worth Rs 47.4 lakh, was recovered. It was seized under the provisions of the Customs Act 1962. The passenger was arrested.
Customs officials said smuggling of saffron (‘crocus sativus’) has been on the rise due to the high price of Indian saffron and the high import duty on saffron. Saffron, which is normally available in 5-10 grams, costs a fortune.
Smuggling networks are bringing Iranian saffron mainly into south India. It can be sold either as Iranian saffron or mixed with Kashmir saffron. Smuggling of saffron has affected the business of Kashmir saffron growers adversely.