A 33-year-old man, who sourced stolen cell phones from the National Capital Region and smuggled them to Bangladesh, Thailand and Sudan, has been arrested from Mumbai, Delhi Police said.
Police identified the man as Hasam Rahis Qureshi, 33, a resident of Mumbai, and claimed that he had smuggled over 5,000 phones over the last several months. Police said Qureshi purchased the stolen phones from his contacts in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh -- the contacts bought the cell phones from thieves in NCR region -- and smuggled it to Bangladesh, Thailand and Sudan.
Narrating the sequence of events that led to Qureshi's arrest, police on Friday said that, on July 9, they arrested four men – Jiyauddin Imam, Mohammed Aleem, Ajay and Shiv Kumar -- who received stolen phones from a person arrested for a theft at a mobile showroom in Delhi.
Police said the four men were connected to burglaries at cell phone shops in the NCR region, such as the May 17 burglary of a mobile showroom in Delhi Cantonment area, where at least 51 mobile phones were reported stolen. One of the people arrested for the burglary pointed the investigators to the four accused after which they were picked up.
A subsequent inspection of Aleem's bank account showed deposits from people in Mumbai and Kolkata, including ₹30 lakh from Qureshi. Aleem allegedly bought the cell phones at about 40% of the MRP, and then sold them to Qureshi at higher prices.
"During questioning, the four men disclosed that they purchased the stolen phones from snatchers, robbers and from criminal gangs of Mewat. The phones were then sold to Qureshi. We had been working to trace Qureshi," said deputy commissioner of police (south west) Ingit Pratap Singh.
DCP Singh said that a police team was camping in Mumbai to trace Qureshi for several days.
"Our team arrested him from Mumbai on July 13. During interrogation, we found that Qureshi regularly has been receiving stolen mobile phones from various dealers across India over the past five years. He came in contact with Aleem, a resident of Firozabad, Uttar Pradesh, about a year ago and started receiving stolen mobile phones through courier," he said, adding that police have also recovered courier receipts.
Police said Qureshi sent the stolen phones to a yet-to-be-arrested contact who sent them to Agartala, after which they were smuggled to Bangladesh through carriers.
"He used to receive money through hawala in lieu of those stolen mobile phones and further transfer the money after deducting his commission by cash deposit in the account of various stolen mobile phone dealers such as Aleem. In the last six months, he has deposited around ₹35 lakh to the account of Alia Traders, one of Aleem's firms," DCP Singh said.
Police said Qureshi is originally from Hapur in Uttar Pradesh but was settled in Mumbai for the last 19 years.
"Qureshi used to help out in a shop selling stolen laptops and car stereo in Mumbai's Chor Bazar. After some time, he came in contact with local mobile thieves and robbers in Mumbai and started supplying the stolen mobiles to a man in Gujarat's Surat, who also introduced him to a contact in Bangladesh. Later on, he developed more contacts in Bangladesh who also had networks in Bangkok and Sudan," Singh added.
Police said they are probing the role of many others, who are part of this international smuggling racket.