Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Smuggling of currency, gold via KIA shoots up; seven attempts in Jan

Bengaluru: February arrived with Customs sleuths at Kempegowda International Airport nabbing two men from Tamil Nadu for attempting to smuggle out foreign currency, including US dollars and UAE dirhams, worth Rs 8.4 lakh to Dubai.

In fact, throughout January, there was a marked rise in smuggling from and to KIA. Authorities cracked six cases of gold and currency smuggling and busted another racket which brought heroin worth Rs 5.3 crore via air courier.

In the recent past, smuggling activities through KIA have been at an all-time low as international flight numbers went down due to the pandemic situation. But things began changing towards the end of 2021, and January of 2022 saw a sudden surge in illegal activities, including gold and currency smuggling from the Gulf by carriers who are often part of international gangs with links to Bengaluru.

2022 began with a smuggling bid on January 4 when the sleuths unearthed 24 gold biscuits worth a whopping Rs 1.4 crore hidden under a passenger seat of an IndiGo flight that had arrived from Dubai.

“The gold weighing 2.8kg was pasted by the smuggler under the seat using a duct tape, possibly for his accomplice to retrieve it at a later period when the flight switched to domestic leg to head to another city after landing in Bengaluru,” said an officer with Bengaluru Customs. On January 18, there were attempts by two passengers who flew down from Dubai with gold paste worth Rs 42 lakh hidden in their bodies. The following day saw a domestic passenger arriving from Mumbai with smuggled foreign gold pieces worth over Rs 26 lakh.

The Bengaluru unit of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which also monitors KIA, considered to be a key hub for smugglers in southern India, tipped off the Customs on a suspect attempting to fly out with a large amount of foreign currency, mainly US dollars.

On January 21, investigators nabbed a 30-year-old passenger who arrived from Mumbai and was scheduled to fly to Dubai with Rs 24,32,730 worth foreign currency concealed under the false bottom in his suitcase, sources said.

02/02/22 Petlee Peter/Times of India

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