Hyderabad: In the recent cases of gold smuggling busted by the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the Hyderabad Customs at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, the kingpin has been identified as the owner of a high-end hotel in Delhi.
In a case of smuggling busted by the AIU on Sunday 3.3 kg of gold was seized from one Thomas Benny, who has been living in Singapore for 13 years, and was smuggling the gold as a return favour for one of the gang leaders who had given him money for a medical emergency.
“Thomas was living in Singapore for the last 13 years. He was earning good, but suddenly he wanted money for a medical emergency. With the help of his roommates there, he approached the kingpin of the gold smuggling racket operating from there, who gave him around 1,000 Singapore Dollars. To return the favour, Thomas agreed to deliver the gold in India, despite knowing that it is illegal,” said sources close to the customs officials.
In another instance, an intermediate dropout from Delhi, working in a hotel was lured by his colleague with an offer to travel to Dubai for free. The boy accepted as it was a three-day free trip to Dubai, but he was sent on the condition that he should bring back a package given at Dubai airport.
He did not know that it contained gold but was caught during checking. He has been placed under arrest.
During the investigation, the kingpin of the gold smuggling cases, including that of the Delhi boy, has been identified as the owner of a high-end hotel in Delhi. Their concerned authorities in Delhi have been alerted with the information for further action.
Explaining the modus operandi of the racketeers, the sources said that, “The racketeers sometimes conduct a rehearsal for the couriers before actually handing over the gold to them. In the case of Thomas, they gave him a television (to bring in on a previous trip), so that he will undergo Customs checking and be familiar with the process. The next time he was given the gold consignment, but was caught for trying to smuggle it in.”
Hyderabad Customs Commissioner MRR Reddy told this newspaper that the Customs department has seized about Rs 17.44 crore worth of various goods illegally brought into the country, including gold worth Rs 12.74 crore, foreign currency of Rs 2.89 crore and Rs 1.35 crore worth of cigarettes between March 2018 and March 2019.
Since April this year, gold worth Rs 3.19 crore and Rs 29 lakh in foreign currency notes has been seized by the Customs, he said.
He said that in terms of the number of cases registered across the country, the Hyderabad Customs could be among the top five, but the quantity of seizure may be less compared to the other airports.