Monday, January 01, 2018

Smugglers ‘recruit’ jobless youths to use them as unwitting gold carriers

Pune: A 23-year-old youth from Ichhalkaranji in Kolhapur was elated in early December to meet a person and get a hob offer in Dubai. His ticket to Dubai was taken care of and he boarded his first flight from Mumbai on December 14, only to return via Pune on a Jet Airways flight on December 20. But at the Pune airport, customs officials found on him 4.371kg of gold from a cloth iron and sewing machine he was carrying. The bag, apart from the two equipment, had some clothes and chocolates and the youth had no idea about it.
› A 25-year-old youth from Mumbra in Thanemet a man who offered him a job of a construction worker in Dubai. Like his Ichhalkaranji counterpart, the youth's flight ticket to Dubai was also arranged. He left for Dubai from airport at Lohegaon, Pune, on December 6, only to return with December 10 as the job offer did not work out. At the Pune airport, customs authorities found on him 48 baby diapers with buttons made of gold. He, too, was caught unawares by the discovery.
Around three of the seven people arrested at the Pune airport with gold this year did not have the faintest idea that the luggage they were carrying from the Middle East to the country had the precious yellow metal inside.
During investigations, the Pune customs authorities stumbled upon a new modus operandi of smugglers to exploit them, and probably many more, as "gold carriers" by sending them to the Middle East with job opportunities.
"The kingpins are mostly based in Mumbai. The vulnerable targets are contacted by some third party working for the kingpins," an officer said.
"The victims are lured with fat pay packets and are easily trapped. Unlike many fake job rackets, no money is charged here. Once the targets agree to the job offers, their travel tickets are taken care of. They are also provided with details about things to do once they land in Dubai or Abu Dhabi," the official added.
01/01/18 Joy Sengupta/Times of India