Officers from the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai customs on Monday found a bag containing six gold bars, worth Rs 19.38 lakh, inside an aircraft at Mumbai airport. “The bag had been cleverly concealed inside the cavity of the horizontal pipe frame below a passenger seat,” said an officer. AIU has launched an investigation.
It was the second such discovery at Mumbai airport in the past few days; on Thursday, AIU officers found an unclaimed bag full of gold bars at the international airport. The bag contained 12 gold bars of 10 grams each, worth Rs 38 lakh in all. Officials suspected that a smuggler may have left the gold for someone else to pick up.
Customs officials have in the past arrested loaders, cleaners, trolley handlers and others who work at the airport in smuggling cases. A source such staffers have passes that allow them to move around freely within the airport and thus help smugglers.
A source said that one method involves a smuggler concealing gold bars under his seat and leaving them there for a cleaner to pick up and smuggle out of the airport in a dustbin.
AIU officials have in the past found gold bars in bags hidden inside plane toilets, in lifejacket pouches, tissue paper holders, under seats, in toilets near immigration counters and even inside oxygen mask cavities in plane toilets.
AIU investigations have revealed that most of the gold smuggled into India comes from Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, Colombo, Muscat, Kuwait, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Madagascar, Mauritius and Nairobi. Some of these places are free ports, where there is no scrutiny.