Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday asked Customs officers to be on high alert to curb smuggling of drugs and ensure timely prosecution.

“If gold hurts economy, drug will affect generations... Be high alert on drugs and ensure time bound prosecution. We need to bring logical conclusion in each case,” Sitharaman said in an event on 60 years of Custom Act.

A report on smuggling, prepared by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence highlighted that over 28,000 kg of narcotics were seized in FY22.

In September 2021, specific intelligence was developed by the DRI that an import consignment declared to contain semi-processed talc stones originating from Afghanistan and shipped from Bandar Abbas Port, Iran to Mundra Port, Gujarat was suspected to contain narcotics drugs. An examination of the consignment in two containers led to a total haul of around 3,000 kg of narcotics.

Scale up enforcement

Meanwhile, the Minister also asked the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) to chart out ideas for the next 25 years on how to scale up enforcement and also to give ideas to the world to follow.  

Sitharaman said Customs department need to use a ‘cocktail’ in technology, like DarkNet and Artificial Intelligence and Web3 and Meta. She said maximum alertness is necessary on the part of Customs officers and also in using intelligence inputs received.