Kochi

Snag in aircraft puts damper on smuggling attempt

Foreign currency worth ₹10.86 crore recovered from passenger

For Mohammed Siddiqui Yusufi, the unforced snag developed by the aircraft en route to Kochi proved too costly.

Having successfully completed the check-in formalities in New Delhi, he was most certain to leave the country with the smuggled currency worth ₹10.86 crore in his baggage when the snag enforced his offloading in Kochi. The subsequent plan to accommodate those stranded at the airport here on board another aircraft the next day morning brought his effort to naught.

When Yusufi’s baggage was taken for x-ray screening at the airport, the CIAL security staff noticed certain discrepancies in the scanning images and diverted the baggage for a second-level screening. With the second-level test too proving inconclusive, the baggage was taken out of the conveyor system for another x-ray screening, which confirmed the suspicion.

Subsequently, the passenger was called in for a detailed examination of his baggage, bringing out the currency concealed inside various articles.

Upon discovering the currency notes, CIAL chief security officer Sony Ommen Koshy sent an alert to the Customs intelligence sleuths, who in turn took custody of the passenger for further proceedings.

CIAL officials attributed the breakthrough to the ₹159-crore baggage screening facility at CIAL, equipped with four 360 degree CT-based scanners with 3D Imaging facility. The five-level security system also includes metal detectors, explosives detection devices, and bomb disposal equipment using robotic control.

Meanwhile, customs sleuths have flagged concerns over the rising smuggling operations through the airport. In the last fiscal alone, the department registered 254 cases involving currency, commercial goods, and around 87 kg of gold. Despite these large-scale seizures, smuggling attempts through the airport have shown no respite, with the department further lodging 91 cases, resulting in the recovery of over 21 kg of the metal.

According to officials, smuggling of foreign currency operations from Kerala are intrinsically linked to hawala operations. “These seizures could only be the tip of the iceberg as the actual amount being sent through this route could be several times higher as whenever the hawala rate of exchange goes above the rate offered by banks, the smuggling of foreign currency goes up naturally. This in turn fuels other illegitimate businesses including gold smuggling,” said a senior customs officer.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 5:35:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/snag-in-aircraft-puts-damper-on-smuggling-attempt/article24155991.ece

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