In its biggest seizure so far this year, the air intelligence unit (AIU) of airport customs on Friday busted a gang of three people, including two women, who were trying to smuggle gold bars worth Rs 3.2 crore into the country. They had arrived in the city by an Emirate airways flight.
The accused, suspected to be repeat offenders, had devised an ingenious method to sneak in the precious metal. “Each one of them had concealed four gold bars in aluminium pencil boxes, which had been hung from the rear end of the trolley so as to hide them behind their luggage,” said Deputy Commissioner, Kiran Kumar of AIU (airport customs).
However, an alert woman official found the behaviour of the trio suspicious and decided to intercept them, which led to the recovery. Officials said that the accused will be arrested and produced before a magistrate as the value of the gold is over Rs 1 crore.
The AIU has discretionary powers to release offenders on bail in case the value of the smuggled item is less than Rs 1 crore.
This incident comes barely nine days after two natives of Karnataka were held while attempting to smuggle gold worth over Rs1 crore by keeping it inside the pockets of their trousers. The duo had reached the city from the Gulf.
This newspaper had, in its edition dated December 5, reported that over 500 kilogram of gold is smuggled into the country every day. Officials have attributed the surge in such cases of smuggling to a hike in import duties payable on gold.
The spurt in the smuggling has been seen from countries like Dubai, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh. This translates into a monthly Rs4,500 crore of illegal imports at current market prices or Rs54,000 crore annually.