Kerala: Gold seizure probe blows lid off CISF officer-led smuggling gang

The probe so far has also revealed the complicity of certain customs officials at the airport in facilitating gold smuggling.
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express IIlustration)
Image used for representational purpose only. (Express IIlustration)

MALAPPURAM: The probe into the seizure of 503 grams of gold at Kozhikode airport last week has exposed a gang led by a CISF official and comprising an airport staffer that was allegedly involved in smuggling the contraband into Kerala through the airport.

Malappuram district police chief Sujith Das said the gang led by Naveen, the assistant commandant of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Sharafali, an employee in the airport’s luggage section, and Rafeeq, a resident of Koduvally in Kozhikode, was involved in smuggling gold from the Gulf to Kerala. Das said the gang had smuggled gold into Kerala on more than 60 occasions in the past two months via the airport.

The probe so far has also revealed the complicity of certain customs officials at the airport in facilitating gold smuggling. Das said that based on the legal advice, the police have booked Naveen under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The Karipur police had last week confiscated 503 grams of gold worth Rs 30 lakh from two Jeddah returnees, Mubarak N V, 36, of Wayanad, and Yusuf, 36, of Malappuram. 

The duo was picked up from the airport’s parking area.  Faisal K P and Mohammed Nishad M, from Kondotty and Valluvambram, respectively, were waiting for the gold carriers in a vehicle in the parking area.

WhatsApp chats reveal gang’s modus operandi

In the probe that ensued, the police recovered vital clues related to the smuggling activities, including information about Sharafali, from Faisal’s phone.

Sharafali was interrogated and the police seized Rs 1 lakh in cash and two mobile phones from his possession. Upon examination of the phones, the police discovered the day-night duty schedule of customs officials at the Kozhikode airport for October. The schedule was sent by Naveen. Sharafali forwarded the information to Rafeeq, who was involved in smuggling gold from the Gulf to Kerala primarily through airports.

WhatsApp conversations between Sharafali and Naveen unveiled the modus operandi of the gang. The gang smuggled gold while customs officials in connivance with them were on duty. The trio would exchange photos of the gold carriers and duty charts of customs officials via WhatsApp. 

After each successful operation, the carriers paid `60,000 to Sharafali. Of this, Sharafali would keep Rs 5,000 and hand over `55,000 to Naveen either at his residence, the gym operated by Sharafali, or via cash deposit machines.

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