KOCHI: The customs is set to launch a major drive in the four international airports in the state in the wake of reports that many Keralites were among those arrested for smuggling drugs and other goods at airports abroad, especially in the Gulf region.
Sources said that around 200 Indians are currently in jail in various countries, including in West Asia, for involvement in such cases. Of these, 93 cases were reported in one country alone from January this year and the customs are currently investigating these cases. The most number of carriers have travelled from Kozhikode airport, according to sources.
According to customs commissioner Sumit Kumar, some smuggling syndicates were using overseas job-seekers as carriers of narcotic drugs and other illegal goods by offering them free foreign trips and jobs. They do this mostly focusing on the Gulf countries where visa-on-arrival arrangement is prevalent,” he said.
“They give bags stuffed with illegal goods, including narcotics and other psychotropic substances, banned or restricted medicines, foreign currencies and other goods. The carriers end up in jails abroad,” he said. Those who escape without being caught in foreign countries return to India with the other restricted goods such as gold.
The department has started enforcing the laws at the departures of all the four airports in the state.
“We have deployed special teams, including our non-airport staff such as divisional staff and those who do not deal with airport cases. They will do random checks, including that of passengers, to ensure that the baggage rules are strictly adhered to and the baggage contains nothing other than personal effects,” he said.
If passengers carry any medicines for personal use, they should be accompanied by valid prescriptions given by registered medical practitioners. Currencies should be taken only within permissible limit.
“If anyone is found carrying the baggage handed over by someone, they will be stopped and checked. If any illegal goods are found inside their bags, they will be detained and questioned and slapped with charges under Baggage Rules and Customs Act. Besides, a passenger travelling by visa-on-arrival arrangement should possess certain amount of money and confirmed return ticket and hotel accommodation,” the commissioner said....