It was a smuggling trick worth its weight in gold. But unfortunately for the trickster, he could not penetrate the vigilant customs officials at Delhi's IGI airport.
Abdul Sattar, a native of Muzaffarnagar in UP, arrived from Dubai on a Jet Airways flight (9W 545). He had nothing to declare and was passing through the green channel when officials noticed that his baggage had three cardboard cartons -- one containing a television set, another a food processor and the third some sundry items. Nothing suspicious to the untrained eye.
But customs officials noticed that the boxes had too many pins stapled over them. They became suspicious and intercepted Sattar.
He was frisked and his baggage was checked thoroughly but nothing was found. Officials counted a total of 109 silver grey metallic pins punched on the cartons Sattar had been carrying. Some of them were removed and sent for checking. The pale metal turned out to be gold, weighing 755 gms and worth R20 lakh.
"Acting on specific information on Sunday, surveillance was being kept on passengers arriving from Dubai. One passenger, Abdul Sattar, a native of Muzaffarnagar in UP, was intercepted after he crossed the green channel and moving towards exit gate," said Neeta Lall Butalia, commissioner of customs (I&G).
All the pins were seized and Sattar was arrested under the Customs Act. During interrogation, Sattar told customs officials that the pins were ordered in Dubai and later painted so that they looked like normal metal stapler pins.
According to sources, each pin weighed nearly six gms and Sattar was just a carrier.
In separate incidents, gold bars and jewellery worth Rs 50 lakh were recovered and a passenger was arrested by customs officials at the airport.
Abdul Rahim Badshah Patel, a native of Karnataka, was nabbed with jewelery when he was crossing the green channel. "Nothing illegal was found in his baggage. But we noticed he was wearing unusually loose trousers. When we frisked him physically, we found packets with jewellery wrapped around his knee caps. Six other such packets were wrapped around his legs," said a senior customs official. The weight of the jewellery was found to be 1.9 kg.
Four unclaimed pieces of gold bars weighing about 448 gms wrapped in yellow paper were also recovered from a washroom near the international transfer check-in area. Officials were scanning CCTV footage to find out who left them.
The total value of the gold, seized both in bars and in jewellery, is said to be over Rs 50 lakh.