The Air Intelligence Unit recovered 37 gold bars worth Rs 1 crore from under the passenger seat placed over the life jacket
It seems that gold smugglers are now trying ingenious methods to hide the contraband from Customs. The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai Customs found gold worth over R1 crore stuffed under the passenger seat in an aircraft.
Flight AI-984 that landed at T2 from Dubai at 4.30 am on Monday, was expected to depart for its final destination to Goa when officials checked and recovered close to 4 kg gold from the seat. After receiving a tip-off, officials from Customs department checked the flight and found 37 bars of the yellow metal inside seat 23F.
The gold was recovered from under the seat, where the life jacket is placed. Officials were also following the passenger sitting on the seat, identified as Rahmatullah Mohammed Ali Farid, and arrested him as soon as they recovered the gold. “We wanted to be sure that neither the smuggled gold nor the passenger should leave the airport,” said an official from Mumbai Customs.
Passing the baton
After the arrest, Farid was also searched and officials retrieved another 200 grams of jewellery from him. The smuggled gold that was recovered in the case was 4.5 kg, valued at Rs 1.12 crore. A customs officer close to the development told mid-day, “Farid confessed that he had concealed the gold during the Dubai-Mumbai leg of the journey.
He said that someone (another passenger or airline member) who was expected to fly in the Mumbai-Goa leg would remove the gold.” After getting the details of the operation from Farid, Customs officials called back the flight, which was on its way to Goa, from the taxiway and offloaded passenger Chirag Gada, who was on the same seat and travelling with his wife, for interrogation.
“The accused has admitted to smuggling close to Rs 1.5 crore worth of gold on previous occasions. We are scrutinising his travel records to check for patterns. He has been arrested and remanded to judicial custody,” said another official, on the condition of anonymity.
A senior customs official said that a similar case also took place on another Air India flight that was on its way to Visakhapatnam, and Mumbai Customs informed Hyderabad officials as well.