On Monday (June 21), a group of five suspected gold smugglers died in a collision with a truck in Ramanattukara in Kozhikode district of Kerala.
As per reports, the accused were identified as Hassainar, Muhammad Saheer, Thahir, Nasser, and Subair. All the 5 accused hailed from Cherpulassery in the Palakkad district of Kerala. The deceased were travelling in a Bolero SUV, which belonged to Thahir’s uncle. They were accompanied by two other cars, which were carrying 15 Cherpulassery residents with connections to the gold smuggling ring. Due to overspeeding, the Bolero SUV spun out of control and hit the truck at around 4:45 am in the morning.
An officer informed that the collision was not direct and that the vehicle spun at least 3 times before the fatal collision. Although the police initially believed that the accident was due to overspeeding, a preliminary probe has revealed that the deceased were part of a gold smuggling racket that operated out of the Calicut International Airport. The suspicion stemmed from the fact that the 5 deceased had no reason to be at Ramanattukara, at the time of the accident, if they were returning to Cherpulassery from the airport.
Suspected gold smugglers had a criminal history
According to the police, the deceased met with the car accident while chasing another gold smuggling gang from the Koduvally town. The body of the deceased individuals will be handed over to their families, following the autopsy at the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital. Reportedly, Thahir was previously involved in cases of intimidation and carjacking. At the same time, accused Naseer had a case pending against him at the Cherpulassery police station.
Deceased men were members of radical Islamist outfit
According to the police, the gold smuggling gang had hatched its plans over WhatsApp. It has come to light that the 5 men were members of the radical Islamist outfit Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). However, according to the leaders of SDPI Palakkad, they were earlier expelled from the organisation due to ‘illegal activities.’ Using the CCTV footage, the Kerala police were able to trace the two other cars that were accompanying the Bolero SUV.
The cops then nabbed a total of 6 of the 15 people and interrogated them at the police station. The police found contradictions in their statements and are now probing the criminal background of the individuals. Reportedly, one Charal Faisal, escorting the gold mafia was involved in the accident. He has a police complaint registered against him for his involvement in a drug case. Faisal is now being interrogated by the police.
The arrest of a gold smuggler at Calicut International airport
On Monday (June 21), the Customs officers had also recovered a whopping 2.3kg gold from a 23-year-old passenger named Muhammed Shefeek. A native of Malappuram, Shefeek had arrived at the Calicut airport in Karipur from Dubai via an Air India Express flight. The gold confiscated from the accused was hidden in a coffee maker machine and is estimated to be around ₹1.1 crores. Shefeek was immediately arrested and sent to custody for 14 days. According to the police, the five accused who died in the car accident had come to the airport to collect the gold.
The initial investigation has revealed that another gold smuggling gang from Kannur had also reached the airport to rob the Palakkad gang and take away the smuggled gold. However, both groups were unaware that Muhammed Shefeek was apprehended at the airport itself. When the Palakkad gang was returning back, a clash ensued with the Kannur group. This led to a high-speed change, resulting in the Bolero SUV being hit by the truck. A day earlier on Sunday, about ₹3.5 crore worth of gold was recovered at the airport. The heightened alertness and security led to the arrest of Muhammed Shefeek on Monday.
Kerala gold smuggling scam
In July last year, the Customs officials in Kerala had nabbed a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Kerala named Sarith where he had divulged that Swapna Suresh, also a former staffer, had forged documents to misuse diplomatic privileges, to smuggle gold from UAE illegally.
On July 5, Suresh’s baggage, marked with the UAE Consulate address, was held at the airport. Swapna Suresh worked as the marketing liaison officer of Space Park under the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) that comes directly under the IT department. The call details of the main accused, Swapna Suresh, had revealed that the accused was in regular touch with Kerala’s Higher Education minister KT Jaleel.
Swapna Suresh, the kingpin in the Kerala gold smuggling case, had earlier revealed to the Customs Department that Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was very much involved in the gold and dollar smuggling cases. In a sensational disclosure, Swapna Suresh also detailed Kerala CM Vijayan’s close connections with the previous UAE Consul General.