Alcohol worth Rs 2.5 crore, 3 luxury cars seized during raid on liquor baron’s premises
The Enforcement Directorate on Wednesday raided the premises of liquor mafia don Ramesh Jagubhai Patel alias Michael, his wife Bhanu and others and seized liquor valued at Rs 2.5 crore.
During the raids, the ED team discovered small tenements to conceal an illegal liquor godown and found several imported luxury vehicles worth over Rs 2 crore.
The massive 3,000-square metre godown in Bhimpore at Nani Daman was hidden by 80 tenements surrounding it, akin to Mumbai’s Dagdi Chawl. However, Patel gave the ED a slip. Efforts are on to trace him, the agency said.
The ED sleuths seized three luxury cars – a Land Rover Evoque, Audi Q3 and Audi A8L from Patel’s residence.
They found stocks of 38,000 cases of liquor worth Rs 7.10 crore which may have been illegally smuggled out. The ED also seized 8,850 boxes containing stocks of 191,478 bottles of different liquor brands – worth Rs 2.54 crore – besides Rs 901,000 in cash.
According to officials, the Patel couple run or own several liquor shops in the Union Territory of Daman and Diu and smuggled in bulk quantities to neighbouring state of Gujarat, where liquor consumption is prohibited under law.
Local bootleggers were engaged to smuggle large quantities of beers and IMFL brands to Gujarat. The illegally earned money was deposited in their businesses.
Bank account details have thrown up cash deposits worth a whopping Rs 223.47 crore in the past three years alone, the ED said.
Detailing the modus operandi, the ED said trailer trucks with shipping containers were loaded with the illegal liquor consignments using forged bills of other cargo goods to escape scrutiny at the Daman checkposts to enter Gujarat.
The local bootleggers placed orders either telephonically or on WhatsApp, sending images of the written orders to one Sanath Ramesh Patel, an agent for the Patel couple.
The ED said the Patels’ businesses have not kept any sales records while the restaurant and business premises are non-functional though they held valid licences, indicating these entities were being used only for illegal transactions.
Violating norms of the Excise Department under the Goa, Daman and Diu Excise Duty At, 1964, the businesses were operated under forged documents which were submitted to various banks.
When the Excise Department came to know of these, it lodged a complaint with the Daman Police against the accused for cheating the government.
There are over 30 cases registered against Patel at various Police Stations in Gujarat for similar activities under the Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949.
He has now been booked under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) based on these charges and the alleged violation of the excise law.