3 more held for gold smuggling in Kerala

Total number of arrests in case reaches 23

KOCHI: Three more persons have been arrested by the Customs sleuths following the seizure of 13 kg of gold smuggled through the Cochin international airport on May 24. The total number of arrests in the case has reached 23

Those arrested by the officials of the Special Investigation and Intelligence Branch of the Customs were identified as Mohammed Rafeeq, 30, of Kalady, Shamal, 24, of Payyannur in Kannur, both ground handling staff with Bird Worldwide Flight Services (BWFS), and Hamsa, 48, a middleman hailing from Vengara, Kozhikode district.

The three confessed to facilitating the smuggling of over 275 kg of gold through the airport, it is learnt. They are believed to be part of a bigger racket operating to smuggle out gold through the domestic terminal. It is understood that the racket was predominantly operating out of Muvattupuzha on the outskirts of Ernakulam.

The domestic terminal was used by the operators to smuggle out gold systematically. Those who bring in gold by flights would leave them in the coaches that are used to ferry passengers from the flights to the terminal and the ground handling staff would then take it and ferry out through the domestic gate and give it to the members of the racket waiting outside.

Ever since the arrests began, the Customs had stepped up the vigil at the airport but due to the involvement of the staff of various agencies in the cases detected, their task has become tougher, especially in the wake of the violent Karipur incident following frisking.

A meeting was convened by CIAL director A.C.K. Nair the other day to ensure smooth coordination of agencies in the functioning of the airport.

( Source : deccan chronicle )
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