Chennai: Of the 56 TN-based gold carriers from whom the DRI sleuths seized 63 kg of gold, worth over Rs17 crore, at Visakhapatnam airport in Andhra Pradesh on Monday, only 10 were arrested as others were carrying quantity that can only be fined.“It looks like there are some underground units in Singapore and Malaysia working to hide / replace gold bars in items we regularly use. Smugglers were carrying home theatres with amplifier’s speaker magnets replaced with gold,” said a DRI official.
All the 10 arrested were also let off on their personal bail. After the seizure of the gold, other 46 carriers were also allowed to go but told to appear when they are summoned, a DRI official said. All of them were carrying household appliances and electronic items in which the gold bars, in different sizes and quantities, were hidden.
“Such operation needs a lot of planning. It is not easy remove an item like the magnet of a speaker and replace it with same size gold bars. A lot of preparation has gone to execute this kind of smuggling operation. All appliances and gadgets have different size gold bars,” a DRI official said.
The authorities had also collected fine totaling nearly Rs 20 lakh from them for bringing in appliance and gadgets in which the gold were found concealed. Our entire operation was based on intelligence input, which resulted in the huge haul, they said. All the smuggled gold was meant for delivery in Chennai.
DRI Chennai officials feel that the smugglers decided to route the smuggled gold through airports like Vizag believing that scrutiny will be less there. Once the carrier of gold walks out of the airport, they can easily take it to Chennai via road or train.
“This is not the first time we are coming across such activities. A few weeks back, we arrested six persons of a gang who arrived from Delhi by air in Chennai on different flights with gold smuggled through Nepal. Two each on three flights were detained at Chennai airport. The smugglers, after traveling via road from Nepal with gold, thought they can dodge the DRI if they travel in domestic flights in Chennai,” a DRI official said.