Kochi

Changing profile of carriers baffles Customs

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Smugglers using neo-age alchemy to change form of gold

Some time ago, Customs sleuths at the Cochin International Airport seized over three kilograms of gold in compound form from a Thrissur native.

The person, who had been working as a driver in Doha, was returning home after two years and based on a profiling, he was subjected to a thorough check-up. The contraband, which was worn around his waist, was sent to the Customs laboratory for extraction while the person was subjected to interrogation, revealing some worrying change of trends in the smuggling operations.

Unlike in the previous cases, this person was not a professional carrier, who was lured into the business by offering free ticket and money. The gold thus brought to the State was supposed to be handed over to the syndicate upon leaving the the customs area.

“The smuggling syndicates are clearly looking to change the profile of their carriers to regular NRIs returning home for a vacation, who could be only caught with prior intelligence. With the smugglers increasingly taking to ingenious methods to outwit us, even the NRIs have begun feeling that carrying contraband is part of normal work,” explained Sumit Kumar, Customs Commissioner, Kerala.

The latest trend indeed has raised concerns about the syndicates deploying NRI women as carriers. “The department is well short of women officers and the deployment of such new-age carriers to beat the profiling technique will only worsen matters,” he added.

Neo-age alchemy

Adding to the woes of Customs, the smugglers are increasingly taking to neo-age alchemy for breaking up the metal and putting it in various forms by adding some complex chemicals. For the customs, it is almost technically impossible to detect the contraband in those forms in the absence of full body scanners.

The Customs Department in Kochi booked as many as 254 cases involving 87 kg of gold worth around ₹26 crore, over the last six months of the last financial year. The duty collected from gold imports in the second half of last fiscal stood at ₹1.78 crore, in addition to a fine of ₹13.8 lakh and ₹4.86 lakh as penalty.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 1:29:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/changing-profile-of-carriers-baffles-customs/article24250469.ece

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