In what is considered to be the biggest haul in the history of the Cochin International Airport Limited at Nedumbassery, officials of the Customs Preventive Commissionerate seized 20 kgs of gold worth about Rs.5.80 crore from two in-bound women passengers.

The attempt was made to smuggle in the gold in the form of 20 gold bars to evade customs duty worth about Rs.60 lakh. It was seized from two burkha-clad women passengers who arrived here from Dubai by the Emirates flight EK 532 in the early hours of Thursday.

The gold bars were found hidden in specially designed jackets with pouches worn on the person over which they had worn the burkha.

It has emerged that the passengers, residents of Thrissur and Kozhikode, had departed from the Kochi airport just six days ago. Statements were taken from the accused and further investigation is under way.

Customs authorities claimed that it was perhaps the biggest gold haul at any airport in the country in recent history.

Thursday’s seizure was just the latest in a series of gold smuggling attempts foiled by the Customs authorities at the Kochi airport over the past few months. Thursday’s seizure has taken the total gold haul to 43 kg worth about Rs. 12 crore.

There has been a spurt in gold smuggling ever since restrictions on importing gold were made more stringent.

A series of catches made in close succession bring about a lull in smuggling attempts for sometime only to gather pace again. For instance, the Customs intercepted and arrested three persons for attempting to smuggle gold bars through the airport in a single week in July. Those who are arrested for attempting to smuggle gold face imprisonment up to two years.

The seizure on Thursday was done under the supervision of Sophia Joy, Additional Commissioner, with the assistance of Deputy Commissioners S.A.S. Navaz and S.Nasser Khan and Assistant Commissioner of Customs Sanjay Kumar. Superintendents of Customs Mithra Prasad, Padmarajan, R. Jayachandran, Oommen Joseph, Koshy Abraham, Sunny K.Joseph, Mohammed. Faiez, P.K. Thulasidasan, Sreedharan, and Jossy, Gireesh assisted in the operation.

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