The air intelligence unit (AIU) of Customs intercepted an 83-year-old man at the Mumbai international airport on Tuesday night for allegedly attempting to smuggle gold bars worth Rs19 lakh.
The AIU suspect the accused, Harjinder Singh Chhabra, may be working as a carrier for a gang operating from across the country. Chhabra was apprehended while returning from Dubai. “The passenger was followed on suspicion and he was found entering the toilet cabin near the immigration counter,” said a high-ranking AIU officer.
An AIU official said Chhabra concealed gold in a tissue box in the cabin. “There are two possibilities. He may have had a doubt that we are following him after which he decided to abandon the gold in the toilet or this could have been the plan, with the receiver picking it up later,” said the officer.
He said Chhabra initially denied keeping the gold, which was wrapped in a black carbon paper. He, however, confessed later. “We checked his bag and found the same black carbon paper, which was used in wrapping the gold in the toilet. After this, he agreed,” said the officer.
Chhabra has not been arrested as the value of the seized gold is less than Rs20 lakh. On September 9, the AIU arrested seven men, who were part of a gang involved in smuggling gold. Sources said hundreds of “carriers” are sent to places such as Dubai and Bangkok. The carriers include people from all age groups and from different cities.
Some carry undeclared foreign currency to pay up in places such as Bangkok and Dubai, while others bring smuggled gold into the country. The agency is trying to catch the mastermind.