KARACHI: The Model Customs Collectorate of Preventive in separate raids has recovered 7.116 tons of black tea worth Rs3.7 million, which was smuggled into the country. Three FIRs have been lodged against the owners of the commodity and investigations are underway.

These raids are the part of the campaign which has been initiated by Collector Preventive Tariq Huda on the instructions of Chief Collector Nazim Saleem.

Sources said a large scale crackdown has been initiated again smuggling and a series of raids would be conducted on shops and warehouses in different markets in Karachi including Bolton Market, Jama Cloth market, Jodia Bazar andMotan Das.

These markets and warehouses therein are flooded with smuggled goods such as tea, Indian cloth and gutka, garments and electronics etc.  Sources said that quite influential people are involved in this illicit trade. Sources said that the authorities are likely to bear extreme pressure in this regard.

Assistant Collector Raza Naqvi will be heading the anti-smuggling organization (ASO) team while Additional Collector Feroz Alam Junejo would supervise this anti-smuggling drill.

According to details of the case, information was received that considerable quantity of smuggled black tea leaves were warehoused at Ali Akbar Street in Jodia Bazar, Karachi.

Assistant Collector ASO and his team along with a magistrate raided two shops and recovered large quantity of smuggled black tea leaves.

The authorities also found some cheque books from the premises which are in the name of S.K Traders and Sandeep Kumar. However, nobody came forward to claim the ownership of the tea. The commodity has been seized and efforts are underway to ascertain and arrest the culprits.

One in every three cups of tea consumed in the country is tax-evaded and a product of illicit trade, which doesn’t only benefit smugglers with higher profit margins against legitimate brands but also costs the national exchequer more than Rs8.7 billion or $84 million a year in tax revenues.

Being one of the world’s largest importers and consumers of tea, Pakistan is a big market for tea traders. The country’s estimated total consumption stands at approximately $610 million.

In what can be described as a major strain on the cash-strapped economy and the profits of legal brands, illicit tea business accounts for more than a third, half by some estimates, of the total market.