Customs officers at Thiruvananthapuram airport on Sunday seized 30 kilograms of gold from diplomatic baggage that was addressed to the United Arab Emirates consulate.
The gold was allegedly smuggled into the state in a chartered flight. As per reports, the baggage had reached the airport two days ago and officials confirmed so on Sunday. There is no official statement yet, as the gold was seized from diplomatic baggage.
As per sources, diplomatic baggage coming into the state does not undergo much scrutiny. Reports say this is the first time in the state that smuggled gold is seized from diplomatic baggage.
The gold is estimated to be worth Rs 15 crores approximately. As per sources, the cart in which the gold was being transported had iron pipes and an air compressor along with the gold cylinders. Since the bag was diplomatic, officials could not open it though they had information about the smuggled gold. Therefore, they held on to the baggage for two days to get necessary permissions from authorities.
The officials did not reveal more details.
The UAE consulate is located in Manacaud of Thiruvananthapuram.
Recently, on June 22 and June 23, the customs office had registered six gold smuggling cases. Three other cases were also registered in the third week of June. Most of the cases were from Kozhikode and Kannur airports.
Some reports said that the smugglers target people who have lost their job in foreign countries and have to return home via special flights and deploy them to smuggle the gold. In the second week of June, there were reports of people smuggling in gold inside their shoes and their innerwear from Kozhikode airport.
Kerala tops the country in gold smuggling cases as the demand for gold is higher in the state. With commercial flights being cancelled, smugglers are reportedly scouting for regular passengers to act as carriers and till now, very small amounts have been seized. Officers had seized around 500 and 250 grams of gold from the carriers, reports say.
When one kilogram of gold is smuggled from UAE to Kerala, the merchant can save upto Rs five lakhs as duty cost. Usually, a 10 per cent commission is given to carriers and those who allow the gold to be carried across boarding and destination points.
Over 400 people are registered to return to Kerala via Vande Bharat Mission flights in the coming days.