A 45-year-old man who arrived in Mumbai from Dubai yesterday was caught hiding gold bars, collectively weighing 2 kg, in his knee supports at the Sahar international airport. On Friday morning, Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) officials arrested the Kerala-based accused, who is suspected to be associated with a gold smuggling gang.
According to AIU officials, accused Rafique Pillaphottali landed in Mumbai around 4 am from Dubai. He was walking through the green channel without having declared any goods. He also did not have any luggage, other than a small handbag. Customs officials said they smelled a rat looking at his body language. They intercepted him for interrogation. After frisking him, officials found that he was hiding gold bars in his knee braces. He was also carrying $5,500 in the back pocket of his pants. The value of the seized gold is around Rs 50 lakh in the international market.
During interrogation, he failed to give satisfactory answers to the officials, who arrested him under several sections of the Custom Act. Pillaphottali is a native of Kolikode in Kerala. AIU officials said he is jobless, but he makes more than three visits to Dubai in a month. Since January he has visited that city 10 times. Officials suspect he is associated with a gold smuggling syndicate. “Further investigations are under way. We are investigating all possible angles,” said Sameer Wankhede, deputy commissioner of customs (AIU).
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