Out to catch a gold smuggler, who was supposed to land in Mumbai around 8 am yesterday, Air Intelligence Unit officers had fanned out across the arrivals area to nab him.
The ten gold bars, weighing 4.7 kg, were wrapped in black tape and kept in the washroom
When none of the passengers were found carrying any illegal gold, they thought their tip-off was wrong, only to realise that the smuggler had managed to evade them by hiding the gold in the washroom.
The AIU had received information that the smuggler was supposed to land around 8 am and was probably travelling in flight EK 504 from Dubai. While a vigil was kept on the passengers who landed from the Emirates flight, none of them were found carrying any illegal gold.
It was only around 8.30 am, after an honest hospitality staffer spotted the gold in the arrivals washroom and alerted authorities, that the AIU officers realised that the smuggler had probably panicked and hidden it. Two packets wrapped in black tape were found containing six gold bars of ten tolas (11.67 gram) each and 4 gold bars of 1 kg each.
Together they weighed 4.7 kg with a market price of R1.2 crore. “EK 504 is a flight that we always keep an eye on. However, three flights land around that time and further investigations will make the picture clearer,” said a senior customs official.
Officials said this was also the first time that the arrivals washroom was used for such a purpose. They said the bay area washrooms are usually used by smugglers since they are more secluded. “Various possibilities are being looked into.
It is possible that the smuggler was to hand over the two packets to another person inside the terminal, who would then hand it to the main person,” said Milind Lanjewar, additional commissioner, Customs. “The profit margin in gold smuggling has gone up and, hence, we are seeing a rise in such cases these days,” he added.
An official spokesperson of Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd said, “Workers in the new T2 have always worked with sincerity and the gold was discovered by a hospitality staffer in the airport, who then informed his manager and the AIU officials.”
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