Air Arabia, Cambata Aviation officials busted for gold smuggling
AHMEDABAD, India - A team of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) busted a gold smuggling racket on Wednesday when it arrested seven men, six of whom are aviation staff, carrying three kilogr
AHMEDABAD, India – A team of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) busted a gold smuggling racket on Wednesday when it arrested seven men, six of whom are aviation staff, carrying three kilograms of gold at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International airport. They were produced before the metropolitan magistrate’s court later in the evening.
On the basis of intelligence inputs, the DRI had been keeping a watch on the airport for the past one month. In the intervening night of July 23 and 24, a DRI team arrested one Mayur Puchariya, who had come from Sharjah by an Air Arabia flight, along with Manvendra Singh and Jay Vaidya (both officials of Air Arabia) and Feroz Sheikh, Arpit Rawal, Dhawal Joshi and Sameer Mansuri (all Cambata Aviation officials). A total of three kg of gold jewelry and $10,000 were recovered from the accused.
This is the first case of gold smuggling at the city airport in which airline officials were also involved. Cambata Aviation manages the ground-handling work for Air Arabia at Ahmedabad airport. Airline officials aren’t checked by customs while leaving or entering the airport. This security loophole was used by the accused to smuggle gold. The accused airline officials would ask the passenger carrying gold to stay back in the plane when others left. Then one of the officials would take the gold packet and leave through the departure area.
The passenger would escape scot-free and the gold would get out of the airport without a fuss. “We wanted to catch them red-handed. The seizure of 3 kg gold is not a big deal but hopefully it will put a brake on illegal gold imports,” said R K Singh, additional director-general, DRI.
“The accused have successfully smuggled several times before. It is a big network of smugglers. With the ban on gold imports, these people try to get gold through passengers,” said Singh. Import of gold has been capped by the Central government, so gold is being smuggled into the country by various means, especially as it is cheaper in Dubai and Sharjah.
Last month, the DRI had recovered 20 kg gold which was smuggled into the country from outside by regular courier service. The sender had hidden gold inside garments and sent it through the courier.