Major seizure at Chennai airport after 2000

In a major operation, officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) busted a gold smuggling racket involving Sri Lankan nationals, who adopted a novel technique by hiding gold bars in the toilet of an aircraft bound for New Delhi.

Totally, 32 kg of gold bars were seized, which was valued at Rs. 9.5 crore.

Four Sri Lankan nationals were detained by the DRI for interrogation.

According to DRI sources, following specific information that gold is being smuggled from Dubai to New Delhi via Chennai, they kept a vigil on the movement of passengers. On Monday, the officials intercepted two Sri Lankan nationals who arrived from Dubai.

They also followed two other Sri Lankan nationals who were on their way to board a New-Delhi bound aircraft.

However, the four passengers denied carrying any dutiable items. Not convinced by the answers, the DRI authorities searched the aircraft thoroughly, which led to the recovery of gold bars from the toilet.

Explaining how the passengers kept the gold in the toilet of the aircraft, one of the officers said the aircraft was first operated in the international sector – between Dubai and Chennai. Then it was operated in the domestic sector – between Chennai and New Delhi. Knowing this well, the smugglers decided to keep the gold in the toilet.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the four Sri Lankan nationals allegedly smuggled the gold bars for monetary considerations.

The passengers were travelling between Colombo, Dubai, Chennai and New Delhi.

This is one of the major seizures of gold bars at Chennai airport by DRI authorities.

In 2000, authorities seized gold bars worth Rs 5 crore, said a senior DRI official. At that time, the gold bars were sent as unaccompanied baggage to the Cargo complex, which was said to belong to a foreign diplomat in Chennai.

High profit margins and demand for imported gold in the market were the two reasons the DRI authorities cite for smuggling of the yellow metal.