VIJAYAWADA: Sleuths of Vijayawada Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate on Friday seized Rs 16.63 lakh worth of foreign currency notes, and Rs 55.3 lakh worth of gold of Dubai and Sri Lanka origin, being smuggled into Andhra Pradesh.
According to Customs department officials, they intercepted a bus at Kaza toll plaza (Guntur district) in the wee hours of Wednesday, going from Vijayawada to Nellore, and held a man with foreign currency notes worth around Rs 13.10 lakh. A thorough investigation revealed that the person belonged to Kakinada and was travelling to Chennai to exchange currency notes with the smuggled gold.
As a follow-up to the operation, the officers of the Customs Division, Kakinada, searched the premises of a gold merchant in Narsapur of West Godavari district on Thursday and recovered 940.46 grams of foreign origin gold worth Rs 55.34 lakhs, along with foreign currency (4,250 US dollar) worth Rs 3.53 lakh.
Sadhu Narasimha Reddy, commissioner, stated that the customs authorities are facing a tough time in tracking down syndicates behind the case as the gold smuggled into India is being immediately defaced and melted to remove the foreign markings, before transporting it to other places.
“It appears that the foreign markings on some of the gold pieces seized were deliberately erased to camouflage the original nature of the gold. Further investigations into the case are in progress,” said the commissioner Sadhu Narasimha Reddy.
In the year 2022-24, the Vijayawada Customs (Preventive) commissionerate has made seizures of smuggled gold to the tune of more than 70 kg worth over Rs 40 crores, commissioner Narasimha Reddy added.