Flyer carrying gold dust, watches held at airport

The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Mumbai Customs intercepted a passenger recently arriving from Dubai at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) which led to recovery of wet gold dust and other miscellaneous items worth Rs 33 lakh.

According to AIU, the passenger was stopped and checked on suspicion which led to the recovery of gold dust weighing 457 grams and foreign goods such as Apple watches, MacBook and assorted perfumes. The collective value of the seized items is about Rs 33 lakh.

Sources stated that some passengers deliberately avoid paying customs duty while bringing gold from abroad as payment of the duty will offset the cost advantage as gold and electronic items are cheaper in some other countries. The agency has been taking actions for possession, carriage, concealment, recovery and smuggling gold into India without payment of proper customs duty and in contravention of the provisions of the Customs Act.

The gold dust is difficult to trace with the help of hand held detectors and scanners and hence smugglers are trying to sneak in the precious metal in dust form. The recovered gold dust and other items was seized under the reasonable belief that the same was attempted to be smuggled into India and hence liable for confiscation under the provisions of the Customs Act.

Last month, gold dust worth Rs 29 lakh was found underneath a seat of an aircraft at the CSMIA. The gold dust was hidden in a hollow pipe beneath a seat, but was traced only after the aircraft landed in the city from Dubai. The customs rummaged through the aircraft upon its arrival when they recovered the unclaimed gold dust.

Several smuggling cases have been reported at the international airport since the country began unlocking. AIU increased vigil at the city airport, as smugglers are trying to sneak in gold taking advantage of COVID.

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