Chennai NewsNews

Tiruchi international airport turning into gold smuggling hub

The sleuths of the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have seized 2.5 kg gold concealed in paste form from a passenger and a crew member of a private airline.

The flight landed at 7 pm on Sunday from Singapore and the crew member, Vinod Kumar, and the passenger, Bakrudeen, were apprehended after gold in paste form was found in their possession.

On investigation, the DRI sleuths found that the seized gold was valued at around Rs 1 crore.

The Tiruchi international airport has been on the radar of the DRI and Customs ever since a gold smuggling racket was busted there in November 2021.

The central intelligence agencies had tipped off the DRI that certain people involved in raising funds for some nefarious activities were using the airport for smuggling activities.

The DRI had earlier busted two attempts to smuggle gold by concealing them in the body of the aircraft as well as inside the panel beneath the seat.

In the first instance, gold worth 41.62 lakh was seized, and in the second raid, gold worth 21.5 lakh was recovered.

It may be noted that the Tiruchi air intelligence unit of the Customs had seized gold worth Rs 28 crore between April 2020 and March 2021, and the net amount of gold seized from April 2021 to July 2021 stood at Rs 15 crore.

Sources told IANS that the Tiruchi airport is turning into a hub of gold smuggling from Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai, and several carriers are employed for this purpose.

A senior officer with the DRI at Chennai told IANS, “The Central agencies have intimated us that certain groups are smuggling gold to fund their nefarious activities and we are trying to crack the link along with the Central agencies and the Tamil Nadu police.”

The DRI and other agencies are also trying to find out the details of those who are buying the gold smuggled into the country through the Tiruchi airport.