Bhubaneswar, Nov 18 (LocalWire): The smuggling of gold has picked up in Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPAI) here since the first direct international flight was launched in 2017.
On 14 November, customs officials seized smuggled gold valued at about Rs 52 lakh from a passenger hailing from Kozhikode, Kerala, who arrived from Kuala Lumpur airport.
‘The BPAI has become a transit route of gold smugglers. However, things are yet to assume alarming proportions. The international airports in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Chandigarh and Thiruvananthapuram registers sizeable number of custom offences like smuggling of gold. Smuggling is on a lower side in Bhubaneswar airport in comparison to other major airports of the country,’ said assistant commissioner of customs, BPAI, BC Sikdar.
The first direct international flight was launched in April, 2017 with an Air Asia flight to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. Since then the smuggling trend has come to light with smugglers being intercepted at periodic intervals, he said.
7.6 kg yellow metals valued at Rs 2.48 crore were seized in 2018-19 financial year from the airport. 18 smugglers were taken into custody in the last financial year.
In the financial year from 1 April to 14 November, 2.4 kg gold valued at Rs 88 lakh was seized and six persons were intercepted in this connection, he said.
The yellow metals were mostly smuggled from South-east Asian countries like Malaysia and Thailand. 24 gold smugglers who have been intercepted since 1 April, 2018 till 14 November, 2019 were all Indians, he said.
As direct flight to Dubai is likely to be launched from the airport, there is likelihood of more interception of gold smugglers in the coming days.
We are gearing up to strengthen our intelligence and security network further to curb smuggling activities from Odisha’s lone international airport.
The smugglers used to adopt inventive ploys to evade detection. A smuggler was arrested last year with gold bars in the folds of turban wrapped around the head.
A woman passenger from Maharashtra had hidden the gold in a capsule in her rectum.
But she could not escape from our team of skilled custom officials, he concluded.