Kerala gold smuggling case: Two key accused including Swapna Suresh held in Bengaluru
Swapna Suresh was traced by tracking phone calls she made.Updated: Jul 11, 2020 22:38 IST
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday detained two key accused in Kerala gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, from Bengaluru in a swift operation after tracking some of the calls they made from their phones, said officials privy to the development.
The two accused were on the run for the last six days after the Customs Department seized 30 kg of gold from an air cargo consignment that had arrived from the United Arab Emirates and was marked to the country’s consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, last Sunday. They will be brought to Kochi in the early hours of Sunday, said an official. It is, however, not clear how the duo slipped out of Thiruvananthapuram, which is under a triple lockdown with an aim to contain the spread of coronavirus disease, and reached Karnataka.
The NIA had taken up the case on Friday and filed first information reports against four persons in the case. In the FIRs, Sarith Kumar, a former employee of the consular office, who is now in the custody of the customs, is named first accused; Swapna Suresh is the second; elusive UAE-based smuggling-kingpin Fazil Pareed is the third; and Suresh’s friend Sandeep Nair is the fourth accused. The FIRs were filed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
It is the first time that the premier agency, which handles cases related to national security and terror, is investigating a gold smuggling case. In the FIRs, NIA said the accused were part of a well-entrenched smuggling racket and that the first accused and Suresh were actively involved in arranging the diplomatic papers for the delivery of the consignment. It also said a good portion of money generated through smuggling was used to fund some anti-national activities.
Suresh, who was working as the operational manager of the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited under the state IT ministry, had gone underground after the seizure. Later, the CM had transferred his principal secretary M Sivasankar, who was reported to be close to Suresh. The issue has taken a political tone after opposition Congress and the BJP hit the streets, saying chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was aware of the “shady dealings” that took place right under his nose.