A gold smuggling attempt by a passenger in connivance with an airport staffer was busted at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) on Saturday when the latter was caught with the precious metal hidden in her armpit.
On the basis of specific intelligence, the Mumbai Customs intercepted a cleaning staffer. “The search led to recovery of 420 gram gold dust worth Rs 17 lakh concealed in her armpit,” the agency revealed on Sunday.
The investigations revealed that an unidentified female passenger arriving from Dubai had dropped the gold dust in the dustbin of the toilet for females. The said parcel was picked by the cleaning staffer who concealed it in her armpit but was intercepted by officials. The gold dust is difficult to trace in handheld detectors and scanners and hence smugglers are trying to sneak in the precious metal in dust form.
In the past, the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the Mumbai Customs Department has arrested several staffers who work within the airport premises for gold smuggling. Customs have held loaders, cleaners, trolley-handlers and staffers of other agencies operating within the airport premises. The passes given to staffers permit them to freely move around within the airport and they do not need to go through a customs checkpoint.
The recent cases detected at the airport have revealed smuggling attempts by passengers mostly arriving from Dubai. The previous cases have revealed that certain staffers who are promised good money use various methods to smuggle gold out of the airport. There have been instances of flyers sticking bars of gold beneath their seats. Later, an aircraft cleaner puts them in the dustbin. Once out of the bin has been taken outside the airport premises, the gold bar is retrieved, sources said. Similarly, there have been instances where flyers try to keep the gold bar in the toilet which is then taken away by an employee who has a valid pass.