KOCHI: The investigation into the gold smuggling through the Cochin International Airport appears to be heading to a dead end with the Special Investigation and Intelligence Branch (SIIB) team of the Customs department, constituted for the purpose, finding it difficult to make any headway, despite nabbing 35 members of a smuggling syndicate based in Muvattupuzha in the beginning.
The Customs agencies had arrested a total of 104 members, especially gold carriers, in connection with the 268 gold seizure cases registered in the state in last fiscal and seized 250.88 kg gold biscuits in Kerala, worth approximately `67.92 crore in open market. The same agencies had also arrested a total of 85 persons in connection with 223 cases registered in 2013-14 and seized 171.53 kg of gold from the carriers.
Despite a slew of arrests and seizures, no bigwigs involved in the crime were arrested, nor any jewellery giants taken into custody at least for quizzing at a time when the agencies admit that the gold has finally reached the hands of jewellery giants in Kerala, said officials. In the latest case, the Customs arrested 35 persons, including airport staff for facilitating smuggling, and even after they claimed that the accused had smuggled in over 2,500 kg of gold, they are yet to recover the booty or even conduct raid at the dens of the real perpetrators of the crime.
A senior officer investigating the latest case told Express that the gold smuggled into the state might have reached the hands of various customers in the state in the form of ornaments. In such a situation, it is not possible to retrieve the booty.
Besides, it is very difficult to establish the links between the carriers and the real perpetrators of this well-knit racket.
And it is not possible to carry out raids in jewelleries upon mere speculation and assumptions, he added.
While the Customs Deparment comes out with many reasons for not solving these case, the most important of them has been lack of cooperation between various enforcement agencies, say experts.