Six Chinese nationals, including two women, were arrested at the Mumbai airport on Tuesday night after the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) intercepted them with smuggled gold worth Rs1.85 crore. AIU officials said three of the accused arrived from Hong Kong, while three arrived from Beijing.
An AIU officer first spotted a Chinese national wearing a gold chain while he was waiting for his luggage near the conveyor belt.
Acting on his suspicions, he intercepted the man and recovered a portion of the gold from him. Subsequently, two more Chinese nationals on same flight were also stopped and more gold was recovered from them.
The AIU then kept a close watch on the next flight arriving from Beijing. All the Chinese passengers were checked. Three of them were caught trying to smuggle gold into the country by wearing the ornaments.
The AIU recovered gold chains with pendants of lord Buddha, buckles made of crude gold attached to the accused’s leather belts and crude rectangular gold plates depicting Tibetan deities, collectively weighing 6.176kg.
Investigations revealed that one of the women, Zhou Liwui, is the main accused in the case. Liwui, who currently is pregnant, had visited the city several times over past three years.
She accepted orders from clients in Hong Kong and placed them at diamond dealers at Bandra-Kurla Complex after flying into the city.
The AIU is trying to ascertain who was meant to receive the huge consignment of gold. “We have never come across a case involving so many foreign nationals before and are keeping a watch on the airport,” said deputy commissioner of Customs, AIU, Pradnyasheel Jumle.
The Chinese embassy and ministry of external affairs will be informed.The recovered gold was seized under the provisions of Customs Act, 1962.
In a statement, the passengers admitted to possession, carriage, concealment and recovery of the gold, which they smuggled into India without paying customs duty, in contravention of the provisions of the Customs Act, 1962.