Crime syndicates smuggle gold in paste form

Dabolim: Gold worth Rs. 48.50 lakh weighing 1.6 kg was seized by the Customs officials from a passenger who arrived at Goa's Dabolim International Airport from Oman, on May 21, 2019. Gold plates collectively weighing 1.6 kg was packed in a plastic bag which was concealed in the waist band of the passenger's jeans and soles of shoes. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi:  Big-time crime syndicates operating across India are smuggling gold in a paste form to dodge metal detectors and hi-tech X-ray machines installed at all international airports, sources said.

Southern Indian state of Kerala has become the new hub of the gold paste smuggling where more than 16 cases have been registered in the past couple of months, revealed a top DRI source. However seizures, in recent times, have been made by customs at international airports located outside Kerala too, the source added.

On Tuesday, the customs seized gold in paste form at Dabolim International Airport in Goa where a passenger traveling on Oman Air (Flight WY209) from Muscat was held by the sleuths at the green channel. On frisking, gold paste worth 1630 gm valued at Rs 48 lakhs was recovered from him. The paste form of the yellow metal was concealed inside the soles of shoes and in the jeans.

DRI sources said that all four international airports in Kerala were on a high alert so the passenger changed his travel plans and landed at Goa. “These syndicates have adopted a new method of smuggling gold by converting the yellow metal into powder and compounds in a paste form. Once the consignment is smuggled, approximately 700 gm of gold per 1000 gm of paste is retrieved from a chemical procedure. The gold, in pure form, is then handed over to the party,” said a DRI official.

A few days back, around 1200 gm of gold paste was seized from the IGI Airport. The passenger carrying the consignment in two packets was identified as Mohammed Asfaque, who arrived from Dubai.

Officials are of the view that crime syndicates linked with underworld gangs are offloading smuggled gold in paste form to prominent jewelers and dealers in gold across metros. Investigation is on to identify potential end-users to break the nexus between syndicates and jewelers.