By Anil Mathews
NEW DELHI (Scrap Monster): The Airport Intelligence Unit (AIU) at the Mumbai International Airport has arrested six Chinese nationals for attempting to smuggle gold. The incident is being reported as one of the biggest attempts involving foreign nationals to sneak in contraband items into the country.
The six Chinese nationals were held for smuggling gold in the form of crude gold chains, buckles attached to belts and deities. The seized gold weighed 6.176 kilograms and were valued at Rs 1.85 Crores as per prevailing market rate. The arrested Chinese nationals were identified as Zhan Kun, Lihue Zhou, Zhang Liming, Yang Ween, Yang Binwei, and Li Jianshu. The main accused, Lihue Zhou, is a businesswoman who deals with imports and exports of diamonds.
According to AIU, three of the accused landed at the airport from Hong Kong on Jet Airways flight 9W 75. The Customs officials spotted the heavy gold chain worn by one of these passengers, while he bent to collect his luggage from the conveyor belt. The person was intercepted by officials. Upon further questioning, it was revealed that he was not alone in the operation. Two of his companions in the smuggling act had already moved to exit. Thick gold chains, pendants, buckles and crude rectangular gold bars were recovered from them.
The AIU officials were then alerted about three more Chinese passengers arriving by the Air China Airways flight CA 889 from Beijing. Unaccounted gold was recovered from these three as well. Upon questioning, it was revealed that all six passengers had known each other before. As per AIU, further investigations are on. It needs to be checked whether the gang has involved in similar attempts before also, noted AIU staff. Meantime, the accused admitted that they were involved in smuggling of crude gold items without paying the stipulated Customs duty. All the accused were later booked under the provisions of Customs Act.
This is not the first smuggling incident involving foreign nationals. On March 10th, officials had recovered assorted jewellery worth nearly INR 10 lakhs from a Sri Lankan national. Last year, seven persons of Sri Lankan origin were arrested from Bengaluru International Airport for attempting to smuggle nearly 2 kilograms of gold. Further investigations had revealed that they were part of an international gold smuggling racket based in Chennai.
As per estimates, the AIU sleuths have intercepted 17 passengers and recovered over INR 4 Crores over the past five days. A total of 11 cases of smuggling were reported over the weekend.
Smuggled gold was seized from other parts of the country too. DRI officials seized smuggled gold weighing over 11 kilograms from four passengers in Darjeeling district. The gold biscuits and bars worth nearly INR 3.5 Crores were being smuggled from Myanmar. In a separate incident, two passengers were arrested by customs authorities at the New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport for allegedly smuggling gold biscuits worth nearly INR 2.82 crores from Hong Kong. The officials recovered 10 gold biscuits weighing 1 kilogram each from the passengers.