India's Customs authorities, who are responsible for assessing duties and taxes at the country's ports of entry, have stepped up anti-smuggling activities, after the arrest of three persons in Kerala for allegedly smuggling 30 kilograms of gold through diplomatic channels.
An internal note by Indian Customs has asked its preventive teams deployed at airports and seaports to be more careful about all types of gadgets and high-tech tools to see that gold is not hidden in its cavities.
Customs officials have recently come across ingenious ways of smuggling contraband drugs and gold through automatic iron presses, handheld drilling machines, and even COVID preventive gear.
On Friday, 17 July, officials from Indian Customs recovered 10.22 kilograms of gold, concealed in household appliances from six passengers at the international airport in Amritsar, northern Punjab. The passengers had flown in from Dubai on two flights meant to evacuate stranded Indians there.
“Our team of officers at the airport intercepted five passengers on Thursday and one passenger on Friday. The passengers adopted a unique modus operandi by trying to smuggle gold worth Rs 5 crore in home appliances like iron, drill machines, and mixer grinder etc", said Deepak Kumar Gupta, Customs Commissioner at Amritsar Airport in a statement.
Even as an investigation into the smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels and surveillance was stepped up at international airports in Kerala, the Customs authorities noticed newer ways of bringing in the contraband.
On 12 July, the Customs Office in Kochi, Kerala said they had seized 2.96 kilograms of gold compound from four passengers coming from Rasa Al Khaimah, UAE.
AIU Kozhikode seized gold in compound form from four passengers traveling from Rasa Al Khaimah in flight SG 9026.— Commissionerate of Customs (Preventive), Cochin (@ccphqrskochi) July 12, 2020
1. Compound weighing 1.8 kg from a lady passenger
2. Compound weighing 388 gm
3. Compound weighing 390gm
4. Compound weighing 387 gm @cbic_india@cgstcustvm pic.twitter.com/53kJu1EA6L
On the same day, they also seized 2.637 kilograms of gold in compound form from six passengers coming from Dubai.
AIU Kannur seized 2637 gms gold in compound form from 6 passengers coming from Dubai. 5 pax carried gold paste in waist band and 1 pax in his underwear. Extraction is underway. One arrest carried out. Further investigation is going on.@cbic_india@cgstcustvm pic.twitter.com/RlyKkypYuU— Commissionerate of Customs (Preventive), Cochin (@ccphqrskochi) July 12, 2020
Earlier this week, Customs officials in New Delhi recovered contraband narcotics concealed in a consignment of N-95 face masks. On Friday (17 July), contraband narcotics worth over $40,000 concealed in computer servers were seized from passengers coming from the US.
According to the All India Gem and Jewellery Domestic Council, gold smuggling is expected to go up during 2020 as import duties on the yellow metal have gone up 12.5 percent.