Gold worth Rs 1 crore found in aircraft seat at Delhi airport, passenger caught
Acting on a tip-off, customs officials searched the aircraft after the passengers deboarded and found gold bars under the cushion of a seat. The passenger, a 22-year-old man from Kerala, was arrested.delhi Updated: Oct 31, 2017 13:45 IST
An aircraft seat worth crores — it may sound bizarre but customs officials at Delhi airport recently recovered gold worth Rs 1.09 crore hidden in the seat of an Air India plane coming from Muscat.
Acting on a tip-off, the customs searched the aircraft after the passengers deboarded and found gold bars under the cushion of seat 30F. A message was immediately relayed to the staff at the green channel to stop the passenger who had travelled in that seat.
“We had an input that one of the passengers travelling in AI 974 was carrying gold and had kept it under the seat cushion. Cushions of aircraft seats are detachable and the passenger had kept gold bars under it. We were not sure about the seat so the team rummaged the aircraft and recovered the gold after passengers had deboarded,” said a customs official, requesting anonymity.
The four gold bars weighed 1kg each.
“Since the passengers had already left, we flashed the message and asked our staff at the green channel to check the boarding pass of every passenger and stop the passenger who had travelled on 30F,” the official added.
The passenger has been arrested and investigation is going on. The 22-year-old man from Kerala had returned from Muscat on October 24 before going there again the next day. He then returned on October 29, when he was caught.
“We are probing whether he had smuggled gold earlier also. He claimed to have a business of garments. We suspect involvement of staff or someone else which is why he did not take the gold out,” the officer said.
In September 2015, 4kg gold stashed in the toilet of a Qatar airways plane was recovered by customs.
In a similar incident in 2014, around 12kg gold was seized from the toilet of a plane coming from Dubai and customs officials suspected insiders, who were keeping a track of aircraft movement and would have informed the smuggler when it was to fly to a domestic sector.
“Indian airline usually uses same aircraft for international and domestic sector. Some smugglers remember the aircraft registration number and take out gold when it lands in a domestic sector. Sometimes insiders, like airline staff, take out gold during cleaning of aircraft and hand it over to the smuggler,” the official added.