Not that airport customs staff get to see too many passengers walking through with Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana or Cavalli overcoats, but they were certainly interested in examining the loaded overcoat of a passenger from Doha.
Sleuths of the Air Intelligence Unit at the Chennai International Airport noticed Mohammed Ali Saleem Jahir, as he stockily trudged through immigration and attempted to leave the airport at 3.30 am on Tuesday. He had just alighted from Qatar Airways flight QR 276, which had flown from Dubai and Doha to land in the city.
Airport sources related how customs officials approached Jahir and asked him if he was unwell, as he seemed like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Buoyed by his evasive replies, officials are then believed to have asked him to submit to a body search and escorted him away.
At first glance, his luggage seemed clean, but while disrobing, officials noticed that his coat was quite heavy. By now, customs officials have gotten used to finding people trying to smuggle small bars of gold by sewing them into the lining of their clothes - but what they found surprised them.
On slitting the coat, they found that bundles of coins were wrapped in carbon and graphite sheets, to avoid detection, and sewn into the coat. In all, officials found 175 gold coins with French markings, of 8 grams each.
“In all, there was 1.4 kg of gold that were concealed on his person and this is valued at Rs 40.75 lakh in the open market,” said a Customs official. In addition, a roll of bank notes amounting to 3000 Euros was also sewn into the coat, which officials suspect was partial payment to Jahir.
Jahir was arrested for smuggling and remanded in custody. Investigations were afoot to bust the larger ring.