IN ONE of the largest seizures of smuggled gold at an Indian airport, officers from the customs department seized over nine kg gold, worth Rs 2.8 crore, from the toilet of a Spice Jet flight from Dubai at the Pune International Airport on Wednesday.
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The Indian Express has been reporting the rise in the number of gold smuggling cases from Dubai despite stringent checks.
An officer from the customs department said, “We have been tracking a particular modus operandi from the past few days based on some tip offs. Most of the international flights landing in Pune are converted to domestic ones and taking advantage of this switch, smugglers hide the gold inside the plane to skip customs check at the airport. The smuggled gold is then taken out at the next destination of the flight which has no customs check. This recovery was done during a flight checking exercise we had been conducting since last few months.”
K Shubhendra, deputy commissioner of customs in Pune, said, “The customs officers at Pune International Airport have recovered 10 bars of gold, weighing 9.1 kg and worth Rs 2.8 crore, from Spice Jet flight SG-52 coming from Dubai on Wednesday at 4 am.”
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“The gold bars, packaged in plastic bags, were found inside the rear toilet of the SpiceJet aircraft. The case gains importance as it is one of the biggest seizures at any Indian airport. Further investigation is underway,” added the customs officer.
Investigators said that increase in import duty on gold from zero to 10 per cent has led to the rise in smuggling since 2013. Gold is available at lower rates in Dubai. One can save Rs 2.5 to Rs 3 lakh per kg by purchasing it in Dubai.
Thus, racketeers smuggle gold from Dubai to India via airways and other routes through carriers who keep changing their methods of hiding the valuable metal. The consignments are then handed over to their clients in India. An investigation has revealed that Pune is considered a transit point by gold smugglers based in Mumbai and south India.