Investigators said that smuggling of the precious metal takes place mainly from the Gulf countries, where this business runs like a cottage industry.
Mumbai: Innovative methods of gold smuggling kept the Mumbai custom’s air intelligence unit (AIU) officials on their toes in 2017 with ‘hard concealment’ replacing the popular style of stuffed smuggling of the precious metal between November 2016 and November 2017. The AIU seized 301 kilogram of smuggled gold in 660 cases worth `81.34 crore last 12 months, officials said.
Sources in the AIU revealed that the smugglers have begun melting gold to mould it into different shapes and sizes to hide it in the base of idols or duffle bags and inside cell phones in the form of biscuits, giving them an opportunity to bring in larger quantity. Earlier, the textbook style modus was to smuggle gold biscuits by concealing them into different electronic goods. In a majority of these cases, the gold came from Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) where the yellow metal is comparatively cheaper.
“We have registered cases of gold smuggling in which the metal was melted and given shape in order to affix it in the base of metal idols or to make it as a hard base of check-in luggage bags and likes. The methods and means have to be studied and tracked vigorously for busting such smuggling rackets,” said a senior AIU official.
Investigators said that smuggling of the precious metal takes place mainly from the Gulf countries, where this business runs like a cottage industry. Despite high probability of passengers smuggling gold illegally, the AIU can swoops in on smugglers only after receiving ‘concrete inputs’.
“Being overzealous can backfire if a passenger has to go through the hassle for the wrong reasons and hence we have to be very sure before we intercept someone. There are means of identifying such travellers, apart from intelligence inputs,” added the senior AIU officer.
One of the most obvious catch is the tenure of a flyer’s trip to Gulf region. If the days of the visit are few, it sets the alarm bells ringing for AIU. Generally such short trips are made for smuggling gold, the AIU officials have found.