The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has seized liquor worth over Rs 2.4 crore and three luxury cars after it conducted searches on a suspected liquor mafia in Daman. Officials said the searches were launched on Tuesday against Ramesh J Patel alias Michael, his wife and others for alleged smuggling of liquor from Daman to Gujarat, where liquor consumption is prohibited under law.
The central probe agency in a statement issued in Delhi said Patel has over 30 cases registered against him under the Gujarat Prohibition Act, 1949 and it has now booked him under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) based on these charges and also that of an alleged violation of the excise law.
It said the agency’s zonal office in Surat conducted the raids and seized a Land Rover Evoque and two Audi cars worth over Rs 2 crore, more than 1.91 lakh bottles of various brands of liquor worth Rs 2.54 crore and Rs 9 lakh cash after the operation ended.
“The investigation showed the involvement of Patel and his wife Bhanuben, residents of Daman who own and operate wine shops, and they have surfaced as the main supplier of IMFL from where the said liquor is smuggled in bulk quantity to Gujarat through local bootleggers despite the fact that the IMFL supplied by distilleries to wine shops owners in Daman is for sale in Daman only,” it said.
The agency said Patel was operating an illegal warehouse of about 3000 sq metres in Daman for “his illegal liquor business without any license or permission from Excise authorities.
“It was found that the said premise was purposely concealed by a ‘chawl’ like locality wherein 80 families are living in small rooms protecting this illegal warehouse,” the Enforcement Directorate statement said. It added that an alleged shortage of stock of 38,000 liquor cases worth over Rs 7 crore has been detected which is suspected to have been illegally “diverted” out of the Union Territory of Daman.