Monday, January 01, 2018

Gold smugglers at airport defy stereotypes, flummox customs

Bengaluru: The popular notion of gold smugglers being from impoverished backgrounds is quickly changing. Individuals entering the murky world of smuggling are well-educated, qualified and would never be on the radar under normal circumstances.
According to customs officials at the Kempegowda International Airport, the profiles of gold smugglers have changed significantly in the past year.

Earlier, the typical carriers/mules who smuggled the yellow metal were either uneducated/unemployed individuals or people from unskilled trades with low incomes. They were hired by actual smugglers for a commission or a fee.

But in 2017, educated individuals are entering the arena, customs officials say. "In 2017, we apprehended carriers who were engineers, entrepreneurs, businessmen and in some cases, even students, engineering and pharmaceutical graduates. These people confessed to the crime when questioned and reasoned that they did it to supplement their incomes," said Harsh Vardhan Umre, Additional Commissioner, Customs. With this new trend, profiling the passengers has become a challenge for customs officials.

"Earlier, during the profiling, we would get a hunch if the passenger is a prospective smuggler. It was either based on the countries they departed from or by their frequent travel history along with their professions, which would be usually low-income ones. "But now, it is a challenge to identify smugglers when well-educated and qualified people are involved. In at least three cases, the smugglers were engineering graduates, and in one case, a woman smuggler was the owner of a start-up in Mysuru," said Umre.
01/01/18 Deccan Herald