Acting on specific intelligence, the DRI searched the premises clandestinely being used for melting smuggled gold, followed by a search at the premises of a jeweller who was the purchaser of the smuggled gold. During the searches, 2.1 Kg of gold smuggled into India, $100,000 foreign currency valued at ₹84.15 lakhs and ₹2.32 crores cash that are sale proceeds from smuggled gold were seized from the gold melting facility and the jewellery shop in Mumbai. The owner cum operator of the melting facility for smuggled gold is a repeat offender who is wanted in other cases also.
Further investigation revealed the involvement of African female nationals who used to smuggle gold into India. Such smuggled gold is aggregated by a few aggregators who handed over the same to the owner cum operator of the smuggled gold melting facility in Mumbai. Keeping a strict vigil round the clock, the African nationals were located and searches were carried out at two Hotels in South Mumbai from where they conducted their business transactions. It resulted in the further recovery of foreign currency of $331600 valued at ₹2, 78, 70,980/- and Indian currency amounting to ₹63, 07,500/- which were sale proceeds from smuggled gold.
Smuggling nexus between African nationals and owner cum operator of melting factory
Investigation revealed a nexus between African female nationals smuggling gold into India and the owner cum operator of the melting facility to divert the smuggled gold and receive cash in Foreign Currency and Indian Currency. The aggregators used to collect the smuggled gold from various carriers, mostly Kenyan and Tanzanians, and used pass it on to the melter, who used to melt the gold and sold it to jewellers in cash. The money collected by the melter was paid back to the aggregators, who used to divide the money among the various carriers concerned. A total of 8 persons comprising 3 Indian nationals, 4 Kenyan females, and 1 female Tanzanian national, have been arrested.
Sales proceeds from smuggled gold amounting to a total of $431600 valued at ₹3.62 crores, Indian currency to the tune of ₹2.95 crores and 2.1 kg of smuggled gold have been seized.
This is a very significant bust of smuggling syndicates involving African nationals as carriers. Earlier, in April, 2023 another such syndicate, which used Sudanese nationals as carriers, was busted by the DRI. This underscores the commitment of DRI towards safeguarding the economic security of the country and to bust syndicates involved in anti-national activities of smuggling.