The customs officials have busted a gold smuggling racket at the Chennai International Airport in Tamil Nadu and arrested five persons. The smugglers were running the racket with the help of the airport’s contractual housekeeping staff.
The officials have seized 6.9 kg of gold worth Rs 3.6 crore in two separate cases.
On 12 November, the officials received a tip-off about the arrival of a passenger from Dubai who was allegedly smuggling gold. He arrived in Chennai onboard flight 6E8497.
Later, an airport caretaker who was seen going to the toilet was followed by officials. He was caught while retrieving two black bundles from a dustbin.
When the bundles were cut open, three gold paste weighing 2 kg were recovered. After extraction, a total of 1.81 kg of gold worth 93.2 lakh was found.
The official later intercepted 35-year-old Sheikh Usman, a passenger from Trichy. The caretaker was identified as 31-year-old Gnanasekar, a worker hired from M/S Service Master Clean Limited that provides housekeeping services at the airport.
On being questioned, the janitor confessed that his colleague, Shankar, had asked him to collect the bundles from the toilet in the transit area, based on orders from their supervisor. Supervisor Kumar who worked for Service Master Clean Limited (SMCL), was arrested later and found to be the mastermind of this racket. The five arrested persons are the passenger, the janitor, his colleague, their supervisor and the person who came to receive the passenger.
In another case, based on intelligence, officials boarded and rummaged Etihad Airways flight EY-268 which arrived from Abu Dhabi and found three bundles in both aircraft toilets. On being cut open, four gold bars of 1kg each with foreign markings and three rectangular gold plates weighing 5.1 kg, totally valued at Rs. 2.63 crore were recovered and seized as unclaimed.
The combined value of the gold seized in both cases is Rs 3.6 crore and it weights 6.9 kg.