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Chennai: YouTuber Sabir Ali, and 8 others arrested for smuggling 267kg gold worth Rs 167 crore through souvenir shop, details

"The workers have been trained to hide gold in powder form in their rectum so as to avoid getting caught by the scanner. It is a well-oiled network and well-executed plan," the customs officials said.

On Thursday, 27th June, the customs officers in Chennai busted a smuggling module and arrested nine members of a group who smuggled 267 kg of gold worth Rs 167 crore through a souvenir shop at Chennai airport’s departure terminal. The shop at the airport belonged to YouTuber Sabir Ali. Among the arrests are a shop owner and two transit passengers.

It all started a few days ago when the customs department’s air intelligence team arrested a souvenir store employee on suspicion of carrying 1kg of gold in powder form. As per the reports, he had tucked it in his rectum after getting it from one of the transport passengers. Officials took both into custody.

Initially, customs officers believed it was a one-time incident involving agency personnel being hired by smugglers. However, interrogation revealed a well-oiled operation controlled by a professional gold smuggling network. 

“Sabir Ali rented the shop paying a huge sum to Vidvedaa PRG, the third-party agency engaged by Airports Authority India (AAI), two months ago. He set up a souvenir shop as a front and employed seven youngsters to manage the shop,” R Srinivasa Naik, principal commissioner of customs, Chennai airport was quoted as saying.

The staff members were employed as covert entry points for the illicit gold that transit passengers headed for Sri Lanka gave them. The gold would be exchanged at the restroom and handed over to receivers outside the airport. “Since the employees carried identity cards provided by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), they won’t be subjected to searches often,” an additional official explained.

Customs investigators confirmed that the group trafficked 267kg of gold worth Rs 167 crore in two months based on those detained’ statements and phone conversations. According to officials, the gold landed from both Gulf countries and Singapore.

Customs officials say that a gold smuggling organization based in Chennai, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere may have paid Sabir Ali to rent a shop within the airport so that they could transport gold without being detected by enforcement agents.

“The workers have been trained to hide gold in powder form in their rectum so as to avoid getting caught by the scanner. It is a well-oiled network and well-executed plan,” the customs officials said.

All nine people – Sabir Ali, seven of his employees, and the transport passenger – were placed in judicial detention. Further inquiry is underway to determine the identities of those acting from behind.

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OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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