Confidence with which gold was smuggled hints at inside help
The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) on Tuesday appeared to be on the verge of blocking a loose network of professional smugglers, airport insiders, and enterprising experts it suspects to be responsible for the startling rise in the amount of gold brought illegally into the country through the international airport here.
The agency inspected several premises and detained at least 2 persons in connection with its investigation into the seizure of 25 kg of gold from the hand baggage of an air passenger who arrived here from Dubai on Monday.
The DRI also arrested a woman who was on the same plane.
Investigators said that she had handed over the shoulder bag containing the gold biscuits to the “carrier” minutes before touchdown because she was a frequent flyer whose travel profile matched that of an established carrier and hence would cause suspicion at the airport customs check-post.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also shown interest in the case given the quantity of the gold seized by the DRI.
Investigators said that, the unabashed confidence with which the carrier hoped to clear the customs check-post with 25 gold biscuits kept openly in his handbag pointed to assured inside help.
Investigators have sought the details of officers on duty at the Customs Hall at the time to search out collaborators if any. Investigators said that the smugglers had recruited a layman assisted by a professional carrier to illegally bring in 25 kg of gold in a single run. They hoped to take advantage of the massive entry of passengers from the Gulf on Monday and the relatively low number of customs enforcers at the check-post here.
An official said that not more than 28 enforcers man the Customs desk in Kochi in turns. The airport handles more than 50 lakh passengers and 23,000 flights annually. Singling out a carrier in a crowded airport hall merely going by behavioral clues such as anxiety or abnormal step, was like searching for the familiar needle in the haystack.