Staff Reporter

COIMBATORE: The Customs has strengthened vigil at the airport here, according to C. Rajendiran, Commissioner of Central Excise, Coimbatore.

He told presspersons here on Sunday that Coimbatore was no longer just a domestic airport and it had flights to international destinations such as Singapore, Colombo and Sharjah.

During the last three months, the seizures at the airport by the customs as well as Directorate of Revenue Intelligence sleuths included computer parts that were being smuggled into the country and ketamine powder to other countries.

With the commencement of international services from and to Coimbatore, the Customs had decided to step up vigil at Coimbatore since the smugglers and their carriers should not find the Coimbatore Airport as an ideal destination to operate, sources pointed out.

The number of customs officials at the airport had been increased. It was also planned to upgrade the equipment used for scanning export and import goods.

Mr. Rajendiran’s statement on increased vigil was made in the wake of the seizure of 10 kg of ketamine hydrochloride from A. Palanivel, a passenger bound for Malaysia from here, at the Coimbatore airport on Saturday.

The restricted substance was concealed in a wood-carved elephant and was detected while screening the package at the airport.

It was worth nearly Rs. 3.5 lakh in the domestic market and nearly Rs. 1 crore in the international market.

The passenger, a native of Ariyalur, was scheduled to travel by Sri Lankan Airlines flight to Colombo and then to Kuala Lumpur.

Ketamine hydrochloride was a restricted substance that could be exported only under a valid license issued by the Narcotics Commissioner, Central Bureau of Narcotics, Gwalior. The passenger was detained since he was not in possession of any such valid license, he said.