Andhra Pradesh

Gold smugglers change tack to get past airport security

File photo of a consignment of gold seized by Customs officials at Visakhapatnam Airport.

File photo of a consignment of gold seized by Customs officials at Visakhapatnam Airport.  

Constantly studying their moves to stay on top of the game, say Customs officials

A man wanting to smuggle gold into the country consumed three gold biscuits to evade metal detectors at the city airport.

However, his efforts went in vain as airport security promptly detained him and took him to King George Hospital, where he was fed bananas, hot water and laxatives. After that, it was only a matter of time before the Air Intelligence Unit of the Customs Department recovered the gold.

Another traveller stoutly protested that he was not a gold smuggler when accosted by Customs officials. Thorough checks revealed that he had concealed the gold in his rectum.

A woman coming from Bangkok via Kuala Lumpur to Visakhapatnam was caught with 410 grams of gold which she had taped behind her ears to hide it under her hair a year ago. Another passenger from Kuala Lumpur was caught with gold straps fastened next to the metallic frame of a suitcase.

A passenger was arrested while attempting to smuggle gold concealed in the cavities of batteries used for an LED emergency light.

The attempts to smuggle gold into the country are endless. Smugglers also use women as conduits for an easy passage of gold through international airports.

The latest case was detected on Saturday when a passenger from Sharjah was found with 554 grams of gold concealed in the form of paste in his innerwear.

Stiff challenge

Smugglers are adopting innovative methods to smuggle gold through Visakhapatnam International Airport, posing a stiff challenge to Customs officials. Officials are also reviewing their strategies to catch the smugglers.

Visakhapatnam International Airport has flights to Dubai, Singapore, Kula Lumpur and Bangkok.

“We are using a combination of human intelligence and artificial intellegence to catch smugglers by constantly studying new tactics being adopted by them,” Principal Commissioner of Customs D.K. Srinivas told The Hindu.

Dr. Srinivas said on an average, the smugglers earn ₹5 lakh to ₹6 lakh per kg. During the last financial year, 2.7 kg of gold was seized.

Customs officials are resorting to thorough frisking and keeping a tab on suspicious elements based on intelligence tip-offs and profiling of frequent passengers. In some cases, hand-held detectors are used as some passengers try to smuggle the contraband in melted form as it becomes difficult for scanners to detect gold.

Rise in traffic

The airport has registered an increase in passengers by 15% during 2018-19. The total footfalls at the airport stood at 24.81 lakh. The aircraft movement (24,237) also went up by 21%.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 9:48:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/gold-smugglers-change-tack-to-get-past-airport-security/article27131689.ece

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