Rise in gold smuggling at IGI Airport; about 100 arrested

New Delhi: Cases of gold smuggling have shot up at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here, with customs officials seizing yellow metal worth over Rs 76 crore and arresting about 100 people so far this fiscal.

Smugglers have been found following different modus operandi including use of newly wed couples and airport staff as carriers to avoid suspicion while smuggling gold, customs officials said.

During 2014-15, a total of 230 people were arrested by customs officials in 388 cases of gold smuggling. About 596 kgs of gold worth Rs 155 crore was seized in these cases, they said.

Whereas, in 2013-14, about 363 cases were registered in which 353 kgs gold worth Rs 92 crore was seized. A total of 123 people were arrested for smuggling, the officials said.

During April and August this year, the customs officials have arrested 100 people and registered 169 cases. As much as 293 kgs of gold valuing Rs 76 crore was seized in these cases.

“The customs officials are maintaining a strict vigil. They are keeping a close watch on flights coming from Middle East and other sectors to check smuggling,” said Vinayak Azaad, Additional Commissioner of customs at the airport.

Smuggling syndicates are also luring newly married couples to sneak gold into the country as part of a new modus operandi.

A couple from Gujarat was recently arrested at the IGIA with 1.5 kg of gold jewellery which they were trying to smuggle in on return for flight tickets for a foreign nation where the yellow metal comes cheap, besides Rs 20,000 each.

Besides, the customs officials have arrested few ground handling staff and airlines crew for their alleged involvement in gold smuggling.

The cases of gold smuggling have been on rise across the country also.

A total of 4,400 cases of gold smuggling were registered in the country during 2014-15. About 4,480 kgs of the precious metal valued at about Rs 1,120 crore was seized and 252 people arrested, as per official figures.

As many as 870 cases of gold smuggling were registered in 2012-13, five times less than those in 2014-15, and about 400 kgs of yellow metal worth Rs 100 crore seized.