Security Loopholes Enabling Gold Smuggling at Karipur
KOZHIKODE: The involvement of a senior Airports Authority of India (AAI) official and the manager of a private firm at the Calicut International Airport in the smuggling of 10 kilograms of gold has turned out to be an eye opener for the authorities, with the accused revealing serious security loopholes in the airport.
In the biggest seizure of gold in recent times at Karipur, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), on Sunday, arrested passengers Susha Sudhakaran of Thiruvananthapuram and Noushad of Kasargod with contraband gold bars worth `2.6 crore.
After interrogation, of both the accused, the DRI took into custody K P Prakashan, AAI senior superintendent for housekeeping, and Manoj, manager, Upshot Utility Services, on charges of transporting the gold out of the airport by evading security check. Had the operation succeeded, sources said Prakashan would have received `7.5 lakh for his “service”.
According to sources, Prakashan disclosed to the investigators the security loopholes at the airport, which he had effectively utilised to transport the gold out of the airport and hand it over to the operators. Having the purple card, both Prakashan and Manoj enjoyed unlimited access to sensitive areas inside the airport, including the apron and the air traffic control (ATC).
“None of the employees, even temporary workers, undergo security check when they leave the airport. The employees are frisked only when they enter the airport for duty. The AAI official had taken advantage of this loophole to take the gold out of the airport. One cannot rule out chances of these officials taking pictures or videos of sensitive zones of the airport and hand them over to external outfits,” sources said.
Meanwhile, DRI and CBI are exploring the involvement of other officials associated with the airport in the smuggling.
Investigating officials with DRI and CBI are of the view that the arrested AAI official alone could not take such a huge quantity of gold out of the airport without the connivance of other officers.
Investigators firmly believe that the Prakashan has a “proven record in the operation.”