KARACHI: I&I Karachi has recovered a large quantity of smuggled betel nut from a warehouse in SITE Area Karachi. At the time of search of the Godown, 1050 bags of Betel Nuts were found to be discoloured/blackened and infested with mold growth for which, M/s General Services failed to produce any lawful import document.

Owing to concerns for public safety arising from the deteriorated physical appearance of the Betel nuts, trucks were arranged for temporary removal/shifting, pending laboratory testing of 1050 jute bags to State Warehouse, SITE, Karachi and upon weighment, on the way, total weight of Betel nuts was found to be 86.76 tons.

A representative of the importer approached the office of the Directorate I&I and produced copies of two GDs in respect of 112 tons and also showed two Analysis Reports as issued by University of Agriculture, Multan, showing Aflatoxin levels of the two consignments at 29.8 ppb and 19.3 ppb respectively.

On the instructions of Deputy Director I&I Karachi Wasif Malik and Asistant Director Saud Hasan, Principal Appraiser ASO Irshad Shah drawn samples from the stock and forwarded to the PCSIR laboratory, which confirmed the higher Aflatoxin level observing the samples to be unfit for human consumption.

It is established there is not an iota of doubt that the recovered Betel nuts are not from the consignments as were imported under the said GDs and Arman Alam owner/partner of M/s. Oud Food Products, attempted to give the cover of lawful importation to otherwise smuggled Betel nuts worth market value of Rs.102 million. FIR is expected to be lodged soon.

An official said Customs Appraisement is dependent on test report and plant protection certificates, and these certificates are obtained against bribes. Importers used GDs multiple times to legitimize smuggled goods.

On the directives of DG I&I Faiz Ahmed, Director I&I Karachi Engineer Habib and Additional Director Afzaal Wattoo have launched a crackdown on betel nut smuggling as well as factories making suparis.  

To recall, FIA issued notices to supari factories and the owners have escaped from Pakistan and all companies have been sealed. Now, hazardous supari are being produced and crackdown is underway.