Brink’s heist saga: How do you fence stolen gems worth millions? Inside the jewelry black market of India
This is the story of how a jewelry thief stole 17 diamonds and a ruby the size of a quarter from the Gem and Jewellery Division of India’s Customs department.
By: Avinash Thakar
It was December 2012, and around 15,000 custom officers from various Indian states and branches were attending a conference in Mumbai on preventing and combating smuggling.
The conference, organised by India’s Customs Directorate and its counterparts in the Caribbean and Europe, was hosted by the International Container Security Alliance (ICSA). This global body was formed to coordinate the efforts of the world’s governments and customs enforcement agencies to tackle the global trade in contraband, mainly drugs and weapons.
The two-day event, held over four days, featured presentations on measures to thwart drug and weapons smuggling, as well as the latest technology in smuggling detection and detection methods in cargo containers. The event, which was attended by nearly 700 officers from Indian customs’ department, was not only an opportunity for the world to share customs experiences but a great learning venue for the customs officers.
Gem and jeweler Kamal Raut was among the participants.
“We came into a room where all the customs officials from around the world were sitting and sitting till late night,” Raut recalls. “It was a great opportunity to interact with people and share the customs challenges, solutions, and experience of customs to each other.”
One of the most senior customs officers, who was the director of the Gem and Jewellery Division, had invited Raut to speak on the challenges faced by the gem and jeweler on the international trade front.
“He invited me to share my experiences and solutions and the challenges I faced in dealing with the shipment of gems and gems,” Raut says.
Raut was also on the invitation list and it is here he shared how he came to have a major security exposure. “A lot of officers from customs, and especially from the department of customs’s customs division, knew me from my previous service,” says Raut.
Raut and his team had gone to the Indian city of