61 kg gold worth Rs 32 crore seized at Mumbai airport in a day

Customs officials arrested seven passengers in two separate cases and seized 61-kilogram gold collectively worth Rs 32 crore at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International (CSMI) Airport in Mumbai Friday. This has been the highest seizure in a single day in the history of Mumbai Airport Customs, the customs department said in a media statement.

Among the seven arrested, five are men, and two are women. In the first case, four male passengers of Indian nationality who landed from Tanzania were intercepted and inspected. “They were found carrying the smuggled gold in the form of one-kilogram bars ingeniously concealed in the specially designed waist belts with multiple pockets wrapped around their torso. A total of 53 kg gold valued at Rs 28.17 crore was seized from the four passengers,” said an official.

The specially designed belts with UAE-made gold bars concealed inside were allegedly handed over to the passengers by a person of Sudanese nationality at Doha airport during the transit time. The four accused Indian passengers arrived from Doha on a Qatar Airways flight.

During the interrogation, all four passengers confessed that they were handed over the gold by an unknown Sudanese national who had not travelled with them on the flight. All four passengers have been arrested and remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody by a magistrate court.

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Explaining the measures taken by the department which led to the seizure, an official said: “At Mumbai Airport, based on the continuous monitoring of suspicious flights and building on the data-based analysis from the earlier high-quantum gold and foreign currency seizures, a systematic profiling of suspect passengers was undertaken on sensitive flights from certain places in Africa and the Middle East. In the recent case of the foreign currency seizure worth Rs 4.08 crore, the pattern and mode of operation noticed along with profiling of foreign national passengers and extrapolating the patterns led to success in this case”.

In the second case, the officials seized eight-kilogram gold valued at Rs 3.88 crore from three passengers (one male and two females) who arrived from Dubai on a Vistara flight. A customs official said, “We found gold dust in the wax form which was concealed in the waistline of the jeans pants worn by the passengers. One of the accused women is in her late sixties and was in a wheelchair. All three passengers have been arrested and remanded in judicial custody.”