KOCHI: International flights that run as domestic flights after reaching Kochi airport (CIAL) are becoming hot spot for gold smuggling. Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) busted a major racket when they nabbed five persons and seized more than 5kg of gold in compound form from them. They were kept concealed under the seat of an Air India flight that landed in Kochi from Dubai and was scheduled to fly to Delhi on Wednesday night.
While the two nabbed persons brought the gold from Dubai, the other three were waiting to board the flight to Delhi to take possession of the gold from the aircraft and safely exit the Delhi airport domestic terminal with it. Three persons hailed from Malappuram while the others belonged to Palakkad and Kozhikode.
“Many international flights are converted to domestic flights after they land in Kochi. This is not the first time that smugglers are resorting to this modus operandi. While several similar cases were reported in Bengaluru, Chennai and Mumbai airports, such a case is rarely reported in Kochi airport,” said a senior officer.
Smugglers keep gold at specific spots on the aircraft before disembarking and their associates, who board the flight for onward journey, collect the gold which is either kept underneath seats or as cabin baggage. The smugglers use this modus operandi because domestic fliers are not checked and it’s easy for them to take the gold out of the airport through the domestic terminal.
“Everything is planned in an organised and precise manner. They even book the exact seat, under which the gold is kept, online for domestic travel,” said a Customs officer.
- Smugglers book international flights from Dubai to Kochi which fly as domestic after reaching Kochi
- The flight details including the number of the seat underneath which the gold is kept hidden is shared with their associates at the destination where the flight lands. The associates book the exact seat for domestic travel in the same flight. If they don’t get that seat, they book the ones adjacent to it
- Immediately after boarding the flight, the associates retrieve the gold from the hidden spot and keep it in their safe custody
- After the flight lands at the airport, they walk away with the gold unchecked through the domestic terminal