Bengaluru : A consignment of jet pumps had landed from Dubai and sat innocuously in the Air Cargo Complex at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA). Crafted into the pumps was a whopping 33 kg of gold, worth Rs 9.4 crore.
Bengaluru Customs officials had only one specific tip-off: that large quantities of gold were being smuggled into the city via air cargo. The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) team at KIA set about combing the cargo complex and finally zeroed in upon the pump consignment.
Around 8.30pm Wednesday, the Customs team dismantled the pumps and a thorough inspection revealed that some electrical components inside were substituted with mouldings made of solid gold. A source said that 22-carat gold had been melted and crafted into the pump before they were coated with paint to avoid detection under a scanning device at the cargo unit.
It was the biggest seizure of gold in 2017. Customs officials are tracking the receiver of the consignment from Dubai, shipped recently but as yet unclaimed from the cargo section. Officials were tight-lipped about the number of jet pumps used to smuggle the gold in, details of the source and receiver.
Reliable sources revealed that it is suspected to be the handiwork of Kerala-based organized gold smuggling syndicates with a strong base in the Gulf, and ties in Bengaluru. “These gangs run gold workshops in Dubai where specialized goldsmiths melt and mould pure gold to substitute components of home appliances like irons, microwave ovens and water heater rods. There have been cases where gangs have cut open machinery and meticulously placed gold biscuits before welding it shut, and then sent it by cargo to Bengaluru,” said a former Customs officer who dealt with similar smuggling methods.
While large quantities of gold are shipped as cargo, smaller portions are often carried by air passengers for a fee and free tickets from the Gulf.
A larger gang is suspected to be behind Wednesday’s case, as it’s an attempt to smuggle in 33kg of gold at one go, something petty smugglers are incapable of.
Customs officials are looking for vital clues to the receiver’s address that could lead them to the gang. They are also examining the sender details which remain sketchy at the moment. No one was arrested in connection with the case till Friday night.
Bengaluru Customs may hand over the smuggling case to the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Bengaluru unit, for further probe, as the quantity of gold is large and could involve a bigger international racket with strong Bengaluru links, sources added.
Source : TOI