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Gold, drugs and foreign currency smuggling from Mumbai airport touch new highs

481.55kg gold smuggled from Apr 2018 to Mar 2019, compared to 356.7kg the previous fiscal; rise in number of foreign nationals involved

mumbai Updated: Jun 14, 2019 08:09 IST
Pratik Salunke
Pratik Salunke
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Mumbai airport,CSMIA
Smugglers tried to get 481.55 kg gold through the Mumbai airport since April 2018.(HT PHOTO)

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) saw a rise in smuggling of gold, foreign currency and narcotics from April 2018 to March 2019, compared to the previous financial year.

The air intelligence unit (AIU) of the Mumbai customs recorded 498 cases of smuggling of 481.55kg gold (worth ₹135.99 crore) from April 2018 to March 2019. Of the 233 arrested, 155 were Indians and 78 foreigners. From April 2017 to March 2018, the AIU saw 362 cases of smuggling of 356.7kg gold (worth ₹95.28 crore). Of the 195 arrested in the cases, 148 were Indians and 47 foreigners.

“Chinese, Korean, Sri Lanka and African nationals are among those arrested. Some of them are also of Indian origin,” said an AIU officer. “They are sent as the belief is that agencies don’t doubt foreign nationals and hence may not intercept them.”

The investigative agencies, however, haven’t been able to unearth the entire racket. “The couriers are trained to not keep the smuggled goods with them for long. In a couple of cases, we could reach the fourth or the fifth level,” said the officer.

According to officers, in several cases, the carrier and receiver don’t know each other. Handlers only give them a code word on the day of delivery. “If the carrier is delayed even by a bit, the receiver gets suspicious and flees. Carriers are also taught signaling methods to alert the receiver,” said the officer.

Foreigners are also being involved in foreign currency smuggling. While 14 of them were caught in 63 cases from April 2018 to March 2019, there was no such arrest in 48 cases in the previous year. Till March 2019, currency worth ₹23.29 crore was seized, with the arrest of 31 Indians; foreign currency worth ₹14.11 crore was seized and 33 Indians were caught the previous financial.

Officials said smugglers keep opting for newer ways. “Common methods to conceal gold or jewellery are on the body, rectum, undergarments or a waistband. Recently, we caught a person carrying 22kg gold. He was operating alone. The next day, a boy was used by two women to smuggle around 10kg of gold.”

The agency also reported a spike in the number of narcotics smuggling cases, to 10 (worth ₹15.09 crore) from five (worth ₹5.39 crore) the previous financial.

First Published: Jun 14, 2019 00:25 IST