In the last three days, the Air Intelligence Unit at the city’s international airport has unearthed about 6 kg of smuggled gold from places and things that will either arch up your brows or scrunch up your nose. A Sri Lankan passenger hid a half kilogram gold bar in his rectum. Another Sri Lankan passenger hid 4 kg of gold in the toilet shelf of an Air India flight. One travelling from Dubai powdered 534 gram of the yellow metal, kneaded it with dirt, poured the mix in a pouch and placed it in a bigger pouch of henna.
A flier from Riyadh concealed 696 gm of it in a battery. Yet another one mixed 348 grams in soap bars. AIU officials said the spate reminded them of the ’80s and ’90s, when these tactics of smuggling were rampant. An AIU team led by assistant commissioner of customs, Kiran Kumar, intercepted the five accused smugglers, and booked them under Section 77 of the Customs Act, which deals with non-declaration of goods on arrival from abroad.
On November 13, the AIU officials intercepted an innocuous-seeming Sri Lankan coming from Colombo on flight UL 141. At first, they didn’t find anything amiss, but when they moved the handheld metal detector over his body, the beeper rang out loud near his bottom. The passenger had to confess to hiding the gold bar worth Rs 14.27 lakh hiding in his rectum. A considerable length of sellotape and generous dabs of lubricant had gone in securing the 514 gm ingot. He went to the toilet and wedged the brick of gold out, which the officers then took away.
The day after proved to be busier for the intelligence officers. First, acting on a prompt from the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the AIU checked the first-class toilet of AI flight 984 from Dubai and found four marked gold bars, together weighing 4 kg, valued at Rs 1.05 crore. The passenger, Mohideen Yaseer, had a Sri Lankan passport. According to the officers, he has travelled to India a dozen times, but this was his first visit to Mumbai.
The very same day, Nawas Kunchi Parambath arrived from Riyadh by flight 9W 523. The AIU recovered 6 gold slabs weighing696 gm, valued at Rs 18.31 lakh. The metal was cleverly concealed in a battery. On the same flight was travelling one Ahmed Riyaz. The officials found three gold bars weighing 348 g from him. The bullion was worth Rs 9.10 lakh.
On November 12, a passenger Jamal Panera Abdulla arrived from Dubai by ÀI flight 984 on an Indian passport. He was intercepted and found carrying a one-kg heavy blend of gold dust kneaded with regular dust, concealed in a sachet of mehndi. The AIU called in the government valuer, who examined the mix and opined that at least 550 g of gold was in there, and valued it at nearly Rs 17 lakh. But the AIU claimed that the correct quantity and value could be ascertained only after melting the mix and purging it of the dirt.
Customs commissioner A Suri was unavailable for comment. Assistant commissioner Kumar said, “Looking at the modus operandi, the interceptions remind us of the ’80s and ’90s when such thing were common.” Another officer requesting anonymity said that after a long time had someone used their rectum as a vessel to bootleg gold.
>> A Sri Lankan passenger hid a half kilogram gold bar in his rectum.
>> Another Sri Lankan hid 4 kg of gold in the toilet shelf of an Air India flight.
>> Another travelling from Dubai powdered 534 gram of the yellow metal, kneaded it with dirt, poured the mix in a pouch and placed it in a bigger pouch of henna.
>> A flier from Riyadh concealed 696 gm of it in a battery. Another from Riyadh mingled 348 grams in soap bars.