In two separate incidents, AIU officers find gold on board an aircraft after receiving a tip-off about the same, and in possession of a female passenger, which was recovered after she was frisked; the woman has been arrested
Some of the gold recovered
Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) officers on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday foiled two smuggling attempts and seized gold worth Rs 1.21 crore. In one case, a female passenger was arrested for hiding the yellow metal in her clothes.
Search on board
The first crackdown was based on specific intelligence provided by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence. Acting on it, AIU sleuths searched Air India flight AI 984, which had arrived from Dubai.
During the search, 20 gold bars of 10 tolas each, and one crude gold chain, all weighing 2.362 kg in total, estimated to be worth Rs 71.66 lakh, were recovered.
“The smuggled gold was ingeniously concealed in fabric, and placed inside a hollow pipe beneath a seat,” an AIU officer said, adding that the involvement of a professional group is suspected.
“The modus operandi of such a gang includes concealing the gold under a specific passenger’s seat. Then, the passenger is given the exact location of the gold; s/he hands it over to another person (a domestic passenger or a staffer) to smuggle it out,” an AIU officer said.
The racket only operates in flights that arrive from abroad and are later scheduled as domestic flights.
This particular flight was headed to Goa after landing in Mumbai. So, officers explained, international and domestic passengers form a chain to smuggle gold to domestic airports because checks are not carried out as stringently there and it’s easier to bring it in.
The AIU has registered a case against unknown accused under the Customs Act and is investigating the matter.
Under the garments
In the second case, AIU officers intercepted one Fatmith Raseena Mohammed, an Indian who had arrived from Dubai by an Air India flight.
After she was frisked, officers found 14 gold bars of 10 tolas each, weighing 1.6 kg and estimated to be worth Rs 49.52 lakh.
She had cleverly concealed the gold under her clothes, said an officer, adding that the passenger has been arrested under the Customs Act and is currently being interrogated for more clues.