In a joint operation, the National Investigation Agency and the Income-Tax Department have seized cash and jewellery worth Rs 500 crore from courier agents allegedly working for hawala gangs, a senior income-tax official said.

About 50 informal couriers, known as angadiyas in the trade, have been detained for questioning. At about 9-30 p.m. on Monday, the agencies intercepted four tempos with about 150 bags while they were headed towards Mumbai Central railway station.

The bags, containing cash and other valuables, were to be loaded onto the Gujarat Mail for distribution in Ahmedabad and other cities in Gujarat, the official said. “The counting of currency notes is under way, and this could add up to about Rs 50 crore. The value of jewellery and diamonds would be much higher,” the official said.

The official added that along with the courier agents, two Mumbai police officers and three constables, who were providing armed escort to the tempos, were also detained. The joint operation was carried out based on information received by the NIA. The Income-Tax Department sleuths were roped in as huge sums of cash and other valuables were involved.

Angadiyas, or informal couriers, have been associated with the hawala and jewellery trade for many decades. They regularly operate on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route and have a wide network across the country.

(This article was published on July 2, 2013)
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