Customs officials discover iPhone parts in flyers' bags

New Delhi, Feb. 12 -- Apple iPhone 5 earphones, chargers, accessories and internal parts are being smuggled into the Capital by flyers, customs officials have said.

Customs officials at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) have seized iPhone 5 parts worth Rs. 30 lakh in the past three months. These parts could be assembled to make 60 new iPhone 5s.

According to the officials, it is easy to smuggle in parts as they are easy to conceal between clothes. Bringing in new phones illegally would be riskier as detecting them is easier, they said. And parts sold individually fetch more on the whole in the market, they added.

"The smugglers told us that they planned to sell the parts individually or assemble them to make phones. This trend began after the launch of iPhone 5. The parts come from Bangkok and the smugglers use passengers as carrier. The parts are in demand in central Delhi's Gaffar market, which is famous for cell phones," a customs official said.

Sources said the customs officials would often catch passengers with iPhones tucked away somewhere in their bags. Apple has, however, begun launching its phones in India almost at the same time as in western countries, prompting smugglers to concentrate on parts.

"If they smuggle the phone and sell it here, they do make as big a profit. The margin increases if they sell the parts. They have to sell the phone in grey market for R30,000-35,000 but if they sell the parts of the same phone, they would get somewhere near Rs. 45, 000," the official added.

Sources said that it was difficult to detect the parts unless lots of them were being carried in a bag. "We mostly nab passengers on the basis of intelligence and profiling ," the official added.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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