On Thursday, the Customs department confiscated around five kilograms of gold from a passenger arriving from Dubai at Calicut International Airport. According to department officials, gold combined with other metals worth over Rs 2.5 crore was smuggled in with the help of two Indigo Airlines staffers.
The accused passenger arrived in Kerala on an Indigo flight. Customs officers stated that, in addition to the accused, both airline personnel had been arrested. According to the customs department, airline personnel used to substitute the smuggler’s international ‘tag’ with the domestic flight ‘tag’ to dodge customs checks upon arrival.
The arrested employees have been identified as Sajid Rehman and Mohammad Samil. Both are accused of attempting to aid the smuggling of gold by helping the accused passenger. According to media reports, IndiGo executive officer Sajid Rehman was caught red-handed while attempting to bring out a gold box brought by a passenger named Askar Ali who had travelled to Dubai from Wayanad. The Customs was monitoring the employees based on secret intelligence that gold was smuggled with the employees’ help.
Kerala | Two staffers of Indigo airlines namely senior executive Sajid Rehman & customer service agent Mohammad Samil arrested for allegedly helping a passenger from abroad to smuggle 4.9 kg gold worth Rs 2.5 crore at Karipur airport (15.09) pic.twitter.com/hq5oxxNMht— ANI (@ANI) September 15, 2022
Officers on the scene observed Sajid attempting to collect the package brought by the passenger and attempting to tamper with the box’s tag via CCTV. Sajid, an aide of the smuggler, and customer service agent Mohammad Samil were detained by Customs after a gold mix was found in the box during a customs scanner.
Kerala has become a hub of gold smuggling. In the past few years particularly, gold smuggling cases via Kerala airports are on rise. In one such 2020 gold smuggling case, it was reported that several diplomatic channels were misused for gold smuggling.
On July 5, 2020, customs authorities at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport seized baggage containing gold weighing more than 30 kilograms and valued at around Rs 15 crore. This gold was contained within diplomatic baggage that arrived by air cargo and was addressed to the UAE consulate.
Furthermore, smugglers are inventing new ways to bring gold into the country. To smuggle gold, belt buckles, wigs, garment layers, and other complex tactics are used. Similarly, a passenger in Kozhikode was nabbed for smuggling gold in his face mask.
According to data presented in Parliament, Kozhikode airport ranks second in the country in terms of gold seized. Until November of last year, the gold seized at the airport was 128.170 kg, second only to Chennai airport, which seized 130.10 kg. Kochi airport ranks third in gold seizures, with 62.281 kg of illegal gold seized, while Kannur airport seized 28.939kg of gold.