Man caught with 7kg gold, second biggest seizure at Chandigarh airport

On Monday, a woman passenger, who had arrived from Dubai, was caught trying to smuggle in 1.1kg gold.

punjab Updated: Jul 03, 2018 22:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
smuggling,gold smugglers,Punjab
(Representative image )

Concealing gold inside two clothes irons, a 20-year-old youth from Bathinda tried to sneak in 7-kg of the precious metal worth Rs 2.1 crore after landing at Chandigarh International Airport on a Dubai flight on Tuesday.

Even as he managed to outsmart the customs officials, accused Amandeep Singh was apprehended by the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI) on the basis of a tip-off.

This is the second biggest recovery of gold at the airport since the international operations began in September 2016. On January 30 this year, two men were caught with 8.1-kg gold.

On Monday, a woman passenger, who had arrived from Dubai, was caught trying to smuggle in 1.1kg gold. In all, there have been nine major seizures this year.

Was a courier

Amandeep, who is from Bhai Rupa town in Bathinda district’s Rampura Phul sub-division, will now be produced before the Mohali chief judicial magistrate, where the DRI officials will seek his custody for further probe.

The probe so far has revealed that Amandeep had been working as a mechanic in Dubai for some time. A gang of smugglers allegedly approached him to act as a courier to sneak gold into India.

A DRI official, who did not want to be named, said the price and quality difference in gold in the two countries is pushing the illegal trade.

While 24-karat gold costs between Rs 26,000 to Rs 27,000 per tola (10 grams) in Dubai, the price in India is around Rs 32,000. Also, purity of the yellow metal in Dubai makes it particularly attractive to smugglers.

“The smugglers would have earned anywhere between Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh per kg if they had managed to smuggle the gold out of the airport,” said the official.

Outsmarted customs

Amandeep had landed here on the Indigo flight. He was arrested on coming out of the airport.

This means he managed to successfully cross the green channel and retrieve his checked-in baggage — which had the gold — without being stopped by the customs officials.

DRI officials said the two clothes irons from where the gold was recovered were packed inside a suitcase. The nickel-coated gold was concealed in shape of the irons’ inner structure, including the base.

While gold recovered from one of the irons weighed 4kg, the other was 3kg.

A customs official, on the condition of anonymity, said the department faces issues in surveillance as the staff can’t check every passenger.

“We apprehend people based on suspicion or if the gold is revealed in the X-ray scan,” he said.

Spurt in cases

There has been a spurt in attempts to smuggle gold through the airport in the past one month. Last Tuesday, a flier was caught hiding gold worth Rs 28 lakh below his seat on the flight that arrived from Dubai. The eight gold biscuits, weighing 933 grams, were covered with tape. As the passenger refused to claim the gold, a case was registered against an unknown person.

In the second week of June, the DRI made a seizure from a Ludhiana resident, who was caught hiding 10 gold worth Rs 21 lakh in his rectum. He had returned from Bangkok.

In another incident, a Delhi resident was arrested by the customs staff for possession of gold worth Rs 10.3 lakh. The gold was in the form of beads on three burkhas.

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 22:31 IST