With increase in international flights and passengers from Visakhapatnam, smuggling of gold is also on the rise.
Going by the statistics provided by Principal Commissioner of Customs C. Rajendiran, in 2013-14 the gold seized by the Customs officials at the Visakhapatnam airport was 6.67 kg, which was valued at Rs. 2.01 crore, in 2014-15 the seizure was 7.62 kg and it was valued at Rs.2.04 crore. In 2015, gold seized so far is 11.06 kg, which is valued at Rs. 3.06 crore. Officials arrested two women and seized 4.2 kg of gold on Saturday last.
Talking to reporters here on Wednesday, Mr. Rajendiran said that the modus operandi was to conceal the contraband in the form of biscuits in the body and evade the Customs officials.
Most of the gold is making its way from Dubai through the Dubai-Hyderabad- Visakhapatnam Air India flight. Apart from the Air India flight to Dubai, the airport handles Silk Air, Malindo, and Air Asia to South East Asia destinations. Mr. Rajendiran said that the Hyderabad transit point was the most vulnerable area in the gold smuggling racket. Gold is brought by the smugglers from Dubai, and changes hands with domestic passengers mid-air between Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam.
“Since it is easy for the domestic passengers to get out of the terminal with nominal scanning, this has been the modus operandi,” said Mr. Rajendiran.
“We have door frame metal detectors and hand held ones, and we normally subject the embarking domestic passengers to scanning depending on suspicion and profile of the passenger. We are working out means to strengthen this area,” he said.
Refuting the allegations that cargo movement from the airport had not been taken up because of the Customs, he said, “We are ready from our side. The other infrastructure is not yet ready. We have the manpower and the technology to handle cargo.” On the cargo scanner, he said that it was up to the Directorate of Logistics to set up the equipment. “Only thing that we need is a dog squad for detecting narcotics,” he said.
‘Gold is brought
by the smugglers from Dubai. It changes hands with domestic passengers
mid-air between Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam’