Pune: Gold smuggling has increased in the past few months at the city airport. Smugglers are using new modus operandi to import gold illegally. This has forced custom officials to change their method to detect smugglers. The pattern used by smugglers has changed in the last few months, which is causing confusion among the customs officials as now they have to devise new methods to trap smugglers.
According to customs officials, the change in the smugglers’ modus operandi surprised them. “The modus operandi is new. Gold was first powdered and then mixed with a powder of iron and potassium. A solvent was added to the mixture to give it a semi-solid jelly-like form. This was packed in three plastic pouches and women used to conceal them,” said an officer.
“Earlier, we used to detect suspicious passengers coming from Dubai by reading their face in a queue or carrying luggage. Now-a-days, they are using different methods such as using paste to conceal gold on their body. It is difficult to identify them. Thanks to the new X-ray machines, which are recently installed at the airport, we can identify a smuggler using paste on their body,” said the officer.
“Apart from being alert, we get help from our informers and sources in the airlines. They alert us about passengers with suspicious movements on flight. The trend of smugglers adopting novel techniques is not only confined to Pune. Incidents of gold smuggling at Nedumbassery, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram airports in Kerala in the form of paste have also been reported,” said the officer. Officials have found that passengers smuggle gold not only for themselves but also for agents hired by their bosses sitting in Dubai.
“Passengers used to carry gold illegally but only a few grams. However, in a recent investigation, we found that agents in Dubai locate such passengers carrying gold without paying any duty and force them to carry more such gold, which is received by agents in Pune,” said a highly placed source of the department on condition of anonymity. Officials attribute the rise in gold smuggling to the difference of gold prices in India and Dubai. In recent months, there have been a difference of Rs 3,000 to 4,000 per 10 gms in the market. Hence, smuggling of gold has gone up.
Smugglers spend Rs 1,000 per 10 grams on transportation (including ticketing) of gold and commission to carriers. The remaining profit of Rs 2,000 to 3,000 per 10 grams is pocketed by them. Profit margin goes up with increasing size of consignment.