Customs officials have prepared a new checklist to prevent smuggling of gold into the country this festive season. Both sale and smuggling of gold go up around Diwali. A lot of weddings also take place during this time.
Smugglers come up with innovative ideas to dodge the customs. Recently, two women from Uzbekistan were caught trying to smuggle in gold concealed in their undergarments.
The customs department is training women officers to detect gold hidden in women’s bodies. Some officers are being given specialised training to scan fruits and wheels of baggage trollies -- some of the places where gold had been detected earlier.
“Recently, we intercepted two Uzbek women but could not find anything on them. Later, when we were taking them for medical examination, they confessed to concealing gold in their private parts,” said a customs official.
“Women staff took them to a room and recovered 900 gram gold worth R25 lakh from them. The women staff are trained but we want to increase their capability,” the official said.
Before the launch of iPhone 7 in India, customs detected several cases of phone smuggling and in one case, a man had pasted 30 iPhones all over his body.
“We have to keep all this in mind and alert our staff to detect such cases. We have to outsmart smugglers at every step of the way,” the official said.
From concealing it in the shoe sole and false cavity of bag and even inside the body, to smuggling in the form of jewellery, gold smugglers have come a long way. Official claimed that earlier most common form of smuggling was by hiding it in the shoe sole. In the second week of October, two passengers were arrested with 2.62 kg gold which, they had concealed in a papaya.
“In the 80s and 90s when the gold smuggling was at its peak, several cases were reported when smugglers were caught hiding gold bars in the shoe sole. The shoes were specially prepared for smuggling. Later, bags were designed with false cavity, in which gold was hidden,” the official said.
Later, the smugglers started wearing heavy jewellery. “The smugglers also used women as carriers and a new trend started. We started noticing passengers, especially women wearing too much jewellery. We cannot check every passenger and many of them still manage to clear the customs with excess jewellery,” the official said.