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Vijayawada airport slowly becoming preferred conduit for smugglers

The Customs officials, who deal with gold seizures at the Vijayawada Airport, said a majority of passengers caught smuggling gold were carriers recruited by operators in Gulf countries.

Published: 27th March 2021 11:02 AM  |   Last Updated: 27th March 2021 11:02 AM   |  A+A-

Vijayawada airport

Vijayawada airport (Photo | P Ravindra Babu, EPS)

Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: With the increase in number of international flights at the Vijayawada Airport from Gulf countries, the airport is slowly becoming a preferred conduit for gold smugglers. In March alone, two cases were reported where the customs department officials seized 3 kg of gold from the passengers. The passengers neither produced bills nor paid customs duty. 

On February 14, Vijayawada Commissioner's Task Force (CTF) sleuths seized 20 kg of gold worth Rs 17 crore from three persons. According to police, the gold came from Mumbai through courier and was collected by people here. Four persons were arrested in three different incidents for smuggling gold from foreign countries in January. 

According to airport officials, a total of 14 flights arrive at the Vijayawada International Airport every week ferrying passengers from countries like Doha and Kuwait. Every day, a flight arrives at the Vijayawada airport from Doha and Kuwait. 

The Customs officials, who deal with gold seizures at the Vijayawada Airport, said a majority of passengers caught smuggling gold were carriers recruited by operators in Gulf countries. In some cases, people purchased gold in the Gulf countries for their family members and were caught for not paying duty tax. 

During interrogation, it was found that all these passengers were paid commissions based on the quantity of gold they deliver safely to the receiver. Shockingly, the smugglers are hiding gold in stomach and private parts to avoid being caught during security checks at the airport. After reporting of a few incidents, the Customs department tightened security at the airport. 

“Two foreign flights arrive at the Vijayawada airport every day ­- one from Doha and another from Kuwait. We usually observe this type of smuggling technique - hiding gold in stomach and private parts - at international airports like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and others," Commissioner, Air Intelligence and Customs unit, Vijayawada, Venkata Ram Reddy told The New Indian Express.

"To evade security checks, smugglers are now choosing smaller airports like Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. But we have increased security measures so that none could smuggle gold through the Vijayawada airport," he added.

The officials also found gold being smuggled from other foreign countries like Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore through connecting flights.



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