The Customs Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) seized about 4.86 kg of gold, valued at nearly Rs.90 lakh, from six passengers who arrived at the Tiruchi airport from Colombo on a Mihin Lanka flight on Tuesday morning.
They tried to smuggle in 47 gold biscuits, concealed in their rectum. They had flown to Colombo a couple of days back from Chennai and are suspected to be carriers of the contraband.
Officials described the seizure as the biggest haul of contraband at the Tiruchi airport.
Acting on a tip-off, AIU personnel intercepted R. Salim and A. Abubacker of Nambuthalai, A. Saugbar Sathik and S. Sagubar Sathik of S.P. Pattinam, all from Ramathanpuram district, and Abdul Maleek and A. Theen of Mannady in Chennai, on their arrival.
On interrogation, they confessed that were carrying the contraband and agreed to hand over the same, said D. Sivashankaran, Additional Commissioner of Customs, Tiruchi, addressing a press conference at the airport in the evening.
The six persons claimed that the gold biscuits were handed over to them by contact persons in Colombo. Once they took the consignment, their photos and mobile phone numbers were obtained and passed on to local contact persons, previously unknown to them, in Tiruchi. On arrival here, they were to be called over the mobile by the contact persons to get the biscuits.
All of them are from poor families and were to be paid Rs.3,000 to Rs.5,000 each, depending on the number of biscuits they carried. One of them was carrying 10 biscuits in his body, according to Mr. Sivashankaran.
The passengers were required to declare the gold as required under Section 77 of the Customs Act, 1962. They have been booked under Section 135 and Section 104 of the Act for trying to evade payment of customs duty by concealing dutiable goods in their person.
Answering a question, Mr. Sivashankaran said it was possible that the arrested were innocent carriers of a wider smuggling racket.
The operation was planned and supervised by Shanthi Sundaram, Chief Commissioner of Customs (Preventive), Chennai; B.V. Siva Nagakumari, Commissioner of Customs, Tiruchi; Mr. Sivashankaran and S. Hema, Deputy Commissioner of Customs, Tiruchi.