In the largest seizure of gold at Vizag Airport to date after the international flights started landing here, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Chennai, and Customs officials seized around 63 kg of gold bars valued about Rs 20 crore last night.
They also detained 55 passengers who had arrived on Silk Air, Air Asia and Malindo Air flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
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All the detained persons hail from Tamil Nadu. Sources in DRI and Customs said the smugglers split in three groups and boarded flights in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Their handlers were suspected to be in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu.
Twenty passengers who had arrived from Malaysia by Air Asia flight were found to be carrying electronic goods. But further search revealed that gold bars were concealed inside the electronic goods.
Another 10 passengers, who came from Singapore on a Silk Air flight, were also found to be carrying gold bars hidden inside electronic goods such as LED TVs, microwave ovens, etc.
The next batch of 25 came from Malaysia was also found to be using the same trick. To escape the scanners at the airport, the gold was stuffed in battery transformers and other electronic gadgets, sources said.
The detained persons were merely carriers who handed over the contraband to their handlers outside the airport. Many of them were frequent travellers, according to DRI officers. Further probe is on.