Officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) seized $36,000 from a pouch meant for keeping newspapers in a Singapore-bound Air India flight, and another $4,000 and Rs 1.26 lakh from a passenger early on Sunday.

An Air India employee and the passenger were arrested by DRI officials.

C. Rajan, Additional Director General, DRI, Chennai, said that on Saturday evening, one of the passengers, M. Shajahan (42) of Royapuram met M.N.V.R.K. Prasad (54), Catering Superintendent, Air India, outside the airport. The former handed over $ 36,000 to the Air India employee and asked him to keep the cash in the pouch. Shajahan told Prasad that he would inform the seat number soon after obtaining the boarding pass and that Prasad should then leave the foreign currency in the pouch in front of Shajahan's seat. This was the arrangement, Mr Rajan said.

Soon after the flight landed, the aircraft was cleaned under the supervision of airline security authorities. Meanwhile, Prasad wrapped the dollars in a newspaper and kept the packet in his office. When he came to the airport, he brought the currency with him and entered the aircraft under the pretext of supervising the loading of food items.

When the passenger informed the seat number to Prasad, the latter kept the cash in the pouch in front of the seat number 24 A. Then he went to attend to his work. Once the cleaning and loading of food items were completed, the airline invited passengers to board the flight, Mr. Rajan said.

Meanwhile, when this information reached the DRI officials, they asked the Air India to stop the boarding of passengers. A team went inside and found the currencies in the pouch in front of the seat 24 A. They also found Prasad inside the aircraft and he was secured. Following his confession, the officials secured the passenger Shajahan. From his check-in baggage they recovered $ 4,000 along with Rs. 1.26 lakh.

The DRI officials seized both foreign and Indian currencies, which were valued at Rs 20.98 lakh. The seizure delayed the flight's departure by nearly two hours.

Airport sources said this was the second incident of security breach at the Chennai airport in the last three months. On November 15 last, a coach driver of Jet Airways managed to smuggle in 6.5 kg of ephedrine, a narcotic drug into a Kuala Lumpur-bound flight. The DRI officials arrested the driver and six persons.


  • This was the second incident of security breach at the Chennai airport in the last three months

  • The seizure delayed the flight's departure by nearly two hours