Hyderabad: In a joint operation by the city task force sleuths and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, 14 pilgrims who returned from Umrah to Hyderabad were caught at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport for their attempt to smuggle 6.46 kg of 24 Kt gold.
The officials found that the gold smuggling racketeers threatened the pilgrims and forced them to act as couriers to smuggle the gold.
DRI officials said that acting on specific intelligence and with active coordination and cooperation of the city task force sleuths (south zone), 14 passengers coming back after Umrah trip at RGIA in Shamshabad were intercepted at the exit gate late on Tuesday night.
On verification, each passenger was found carrying foreign marked gold in the form of cut pieces of 24Kt, bracelets and chains. All the 14 passengers were residents of Hyderabad and they arrived in a Saudi Airlines Flight (SV-744) from Jeddah, said the officials.
“The gold was smuggled into the country by concealing them on their bodies and none of the passengers had any documents to prove the import of the gold. The total weight of the gold seized is about 6.46 kg and it is worth around `2.17 crore,” said the DRI officials.
A probe into the incident revealed that racketeers lured the poor people who wanted to go for the holy Umrah pilgrimage offering sponsorship.
The officials said, “The agents involved in the gold smuggling racket offered sponsorship for the Umrah trip at a highly discounted price. While returning, the passengers were asked to carry the gold as a favour. The gold was supposed to be collected by someone outside the airport.”
“The pilgrims were blackmailed by the agents at Jeddah with consequences of penalty and recovery of the full charge of the pilgrimage expenses if they failed to act as per the agents’ instructions. A probe is on to find the persons who funded the trip and who were involved in the racket,” said DRI officials.