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Gold smugglers target workers returning from Saudi, say Customs officials

According to the Customs, smugglers in Saudi “cajole” the workers to take these parcels back home.

mumbai Updated: Jan 23, 2018 19:44 IST
Pratik Salunke
Pratik Salunke
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,gold smugglers,Saudi
According to the Customs, smugglers in Saudi “cajole” the workers to take these parcels back home.(HT)

Target Indian migrant workers returning home to get gold smuggled. This, according to the Customs department, is the new modus operandi of gold smugglers.

“In the past 10 days, we have intercepted four workers and have collectively seized gold weighing 8.5kg from them,” said an air intelligence unit (AIU) officer. “Some of them are unaware that the goods they are carrying has gold concealed in it.”

According to the Customs, smugglers in Saudi “cajole” the workers to take these parcels back home. “They often request them to take metal strips or wires with them. Some are offered a price or the air ticket is paid for. This makes them vulnerable. Workers are unaware of the consequences,” said the officer.

Authorities say the dire need for money makes workers take such risks. “They are not murderers or rapists. Most of them don’t make enough money. They still send a part of their earnings home. The working conditions are bad. Many of them are cramped in a small place or are not allowed to go home for a long time,” said the official.

Under the Customs Act, officials arrest a person carrying smuggled goods worth Rs20 lakh or above. “In case of these workers, they are unable to furnish the bail amount, which makes their stay in jail longer,” said the officer. “A case in point could be a man intercepted recently. He earned 1500 Saudi Arabian Riyals, equivalent to around Rs25,510. His entire savings will be used up for the bail bond. Further, a smuggling case means he will find it difficult to get another job.”

The authorities, now, have a word of caution for migrant workers — never accept parcels. “In one case, the man who was caught was unable to come back to the country even after his father’s death. He was flying back after a long time and was caught,” said the officer. “In another case, one of the accused requested us to let him talk to his mother to inform her that he will not come soon.”

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 19:44 IST