The seizure of 63 kg gold at Visakhapatnam international airport has revealed a new strategy adopted by smuggling gangs to conceal the yellow metal in consumer electronic goods and landing at less frequented airports.
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized the gold valued at Rs.16.85 crore from 56 passengers arriving from Malaysia and Singapore in the early hours of Monday.
DRI officials said Chennai-based gangs were bringing the precious metal in different shapes resembling the parts of the electronic goods, such as magnets in amplifiers, stand of speakers, central pulley of washing machine, rods of stand/trolley and magnets in transformer.
This was done in a meticulous way to avoid detection by customs officials through regular X-ray scanning of the baggage.
Investigations by DRI revealed that these couriers used to depart from Chennai airport to Malaysia or Singapore and return to less frequented airports with gold concealed in electronic goods or consumer durables such as music system, amplifiers, mini washing machine, electric oven, induction stove and television.
It was also found that the gangs were using large number of non-frequent passengers as couriers.
On specific intelligence, Chennai zonal unit of DRI with the assistance of DRI units at Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad and Customs Commissionerate, Visakhapatnam launched a major operation which began on Sunday night and continued till late Monday evening.
The operation resulted in huge haul of 63 kg of smuggled gold from three international flights - Air Asia 83 and Malindo 251, both from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Silk Air MI442 from Singapore.
The officials identified suspect passengers in the three flights which landed late Sunday night. Their baggage was segregated and scanned.
"The suspect goods were categorized individually and detailed examination was done by breaking open the goods in the concealment area," said a statement by DRI.
The gold was brought in an illegal manner in violation of provisions of the Customs Act, 1962 and Baggage Rules, 1998. The officials were questioning 56 passengers.
"Necessary legal action under Customs Act, 1962 for offences committed in smuggling of gold has been contemplated and the further investigation is on," the statement said.
This is the biggest seizure of the yellow metal at Visakhapatnam airport and one of the biggest hauls in the country.
There has been a spurt in gold smuggling in recent years as the precious metal is being brought in illegally to avoid import duty.