Gold smuggling thrives at Calicut airport

Despite strict enforcement, smuggling of gold from GCC cities, especially Dubai, is continuing unabated at the Calicut International Airport.

Sources said the gangs based at Bhatkal, a coastal Karnataka town, are using the airport for shifting staggering amounts of contraband in the Vande Bharat Mission flights. “Numerous cases of smuggling of gold, either in ornaments or in compounds, have emerged at the airport. Incidentally, gangs try to smuggle gold in small amounts and later pool for selling,” an official said.

Dubai-based smuggling syndicates have been operating at Mangaluru, Kannur and Calicut airports for smuggling high-valued contraband notwithstanding air travel restrictions. Smuggling gold in small quantities has been detected earlier also when the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence seized 2.5 kg of the yellow metal from 10 passengers at Mangaluru,” he added.

The changing modus operandi, the official said, was that seizure of small quantities of gold did not attract huge penalties and was also considered a non-bailable offence. “On Wednesday, three persons from Bhatkal attempted to smuggle gold in small quantities of 200 gm each. However, gold concealed in any form will be confiscated. Usually, the contraband is detected in powdered form and mixed with gum or chemical paste. Many cases include concealing gold inside undergarments and also in private parts and body cavities,” he said.

The lockdown has prompted smugglers to adopt new concealment tactics. “One of the passengers flying down from Dubai was arrested for concealing gold behind the exhalation valve of his (KN-95) face mask. He was also a native of Bhatkal,” the official said.

Recent cases also revealed that gold is smuggled from Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well. Smugglers try to exploit every possibility to employ stranded Indians returning, including families from GCC nations, to bring gold to the State. “Earlier, carriers used to travel to Dubai on a 10-day trip. Now, such strategies are not resorted to following travel restrictions. Even then, smuggling of gold via the Calicut airport is the highest among the four airports in the State,” he said.

Gold jewellery does not attract customs duty for the permitted limit (₹50,000 and ₹1 lakh for male and female passengers respectively) and that too of their minimum one-year stay in a foreign country. However, passengers will be arrested if the value of the gold is above ₹20 lakh.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2020 1:05:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/gold-smuggling-thrives-at-calicut-airport/article32748444.ece

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