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After airport staff, airline employees caught with smugglers

In two separate cases, the Customs’ Air Intelligence Unit has intercepted gold from smugglers allegedly working with employees of Air India and Jet Airways

Almost a month after the Customs had written to GVK, asking them to instruct agencies to be more vigilant with their workers, the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) find their challenges increasing.

mid-day’s report on May 5 about an airport staffer allegedly working with a smuggler who was arrested for his involvement of transporting the contraband
mid-day’s report on May 5 about an airport staffer allegedly working with a smuggler who was arrested for his involvement of transporting the contraband

They have caught staff members of Air India and Jet Airways, allegedly hand in glove with gold smugglers. On Sunday, the AIU seized five gold bars of one kg each from a passenger arriving from Dubai, while he was handing them over to Ramesh B Bansode, an Air India staff member, who was then arrested.

Also read: Customs to crack down on Mumbai airport staffers aiding gold smugglers

Within 24 hours, another case of smuggling with a similar modus operandi took place. Another passenger arriving from Dubai was intercepted with three gold bars of one kg each, valued approximately Rs 76.44 lakh.

He was arrested with two employees of Jet Airways, Hamed Lateef Mohd, a supervisor, and Pritpal Singh, who worked at load and trim. They were later granted bail.

“The challenges for officials are increasing every day, as not only airport staff, but airline staff is now getting involved in smuggling,” said an official from the airport. The spokesperson of Jet Airways said, “At Jet Airways, we follow a strict employee code of conduct, based on the values and ethos of the airline.

Any violation of the policy can lead to severe disciplinary action. It is mandatory for every airline member to comply with the company’s rules and regulations, including Customs and security laws.”

Speaking on the incident, he said, “With regards to the incident, Jet Airways, in accordance with the principles of natural justice and employee code of conduct, will take appropriate action.”

The spokesperson of Air India said, “We are cooperating with the authorities of the airport in the case, and will take action against the employee involved accordingly.”

Custom speak
Milind Lanjewar, additional commissioner of customs, said, “We cannot deny the possibility of airlines staff being involved in smuggling. In the case of Jet Airways, we caught the smuggler when he was waiting at the arrivals for a long time.

It was then that he confessed he was waiting for the receiver, who had asked to wait for him. We ended up catching the employees red-handed. Such cases are increasing, since smugglers are nowadays aware of the possibility of being caught in the green channel. Therefore, partnering with a staff member to clear the gold is becoming a trend.”

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