A Jet Airways flight attendant was caught trying to smuggle gold and diamonds worth Rs 1.06 crore at the Mumbai airport on Friday morning. This is the first time a Jet Airways crew has been caught with gold on him at Mumbai airport, according to Customs officials.
The flight attendant, Abdul Hafiz Khatri, who was on the Dubai Mumbai 9W 543 flight was going through the green channel when he was apprehended by Customs officials. “Based on profiling, officer of the Air Intelligence Unit frisked Khatri and recovered four kgs of gold , valued at Rs 95.3 lakh and 14 carats diamonds, valued at Rs 11.6 lakh from Khatri,” said a Customs official.
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According to Customs officials, the gold was hidden in his trouser pockets. When Customs officials approached Khatri, he tried to make excuses to go to the toilet claiming to have a stomach ache, but was told that he needed to be frisked first.
Officials also apprehended Mohamed Afzal Qureshi, who was due to receive the consignment, outside the terminal. “Khatri has admitted that a passenger handed him the gold in flight. Both have been arrested and they have admitted committing the same offence in the past. Crew usually breeze through the security and checkin lines. This ease of movement has made them top targets for smuggling cartels,” said a Customs official.
Meanwhile, Jet Airways has said that ‘disciplinary action’ will be taken against the crew. “The matter is under investigation. Jet Airways is extending all cooperation to the investigating agencies. It is mandatory for all Jet Airways employees to comply with the company’s rules and regulations and the prevalent customs, immigration and security laws. Any violation of these will lead to disciplinary action by the company and action as per appropriate rule of law,” said the Jet Airways statement.
Last month, Air India crew members have been arrested trying to smuggle gold resulting in a letter from the Assistant Commissioner of Customs of Air Intelligence to the Executive Director of western region of Air India asking him to instruct crew members to mandatorily undergo customs checks. It has also asked Air India to issue instructions to crew operating from Terminal 2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji international terminal to clear customs without fail.
On Friday, officials also caught two passengers, Sagar Dave and Rasiklal, who arrived on a flight from Kenya while they were trying to clear the green channel with 3kg gols valued at Rs 74.04 lakh.
With these seizures, the Customs officials at Mumbai airport have managed to seize around 867 kg this financial year.