SUCH A LONG CHASE
Fugitive car smuggler, on the run for a decade, held
For over a decade, he eluded the police. But the law finally caught up with India’s most wanted smuggler when he arrived by an Emirates flight from Dubai at Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Airport on November 6. Alex C. Joseph, 50, is accused of smuggling 450 high-end cars, including BMWS, Mercedes-benzs, Rolls-royces and Toyota Land Cruisers, and evading over Rs 500 crore in customs duty.
The Central Economic Intelligence Bureau had booked Joseph and passed detention orders as far back as April 13, 2000. To avoid arrest, Joseph, a native of Thiruvalla in Kerala’s Pathanamthitta district, fled to the UAE CAR SMUGGLER ALEX JOSEPH BEING TAKEN AWAY BY POLICE, IN HYDERABAD under the name Abey John. He continued his operations from Sharjah after he failed to get the detention order quashed by the Kerala High Court.
Joseph relied on an ingenious route to avoid detection. Since 1997, he would smuggle the cars using passports of Indians abroad, relying on the Transfer of Residence facility provided to non-resident Indians who can bring used cars paying nominal customs duty. He smuggled the cars through different ports to avoid attention. He gave cash incentives to Gulf-based Indians, mostly homeward-bound Malayalees, to use their passports.
Cars smuggled this way were sold at prices between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 1.25 crore to film personalities and politicians in Mumbai and Kerala. During investigations, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence ( DRI) found that most postal addresses given by the importer didn’t exist and sensed that they were being taken for a ride.
Joseph, however, was untraceable till they came to know of his second passport. DRI and the Kerala Police issued fresh look-out notices. He was finally caught at Hyderabad airport.