13:56 GMT16 April 2021
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    India's customs department has seized smuggled gold worth over $305 million in 6,342 cases since April 2019 across the country. Customs officials claimed that people (airline passengers) are finding new and innovative ways to fool the personnel at the airport in order to smuggle items and goods.

    Officials at India's Chennai airport have arrested seven people in separate cases who were attempting to smuggle gold hidden in their wigs, rectum and clothes, the custom department revealed on Monday. The department has seized 5.5 kilograms of gold worth INR 25 million ($345,361) over the last two days, officials added.

    According to Chennai Custom officials, two passengers - Magroob Akbarali (39) and Zubair Hassan Rafiyutheen (26) who arrived via Fly Dubai flight FZ8515 were intercepted upon  exit on Sunday as their hairstyles looked suspicious.

    "On examination they were found to be wearing wigs and having partly tonsured heads. Two gold paste packets weighing 698 grams were found concealed under their wigs, which on extraction yielded 595 grams gold," Chennai Custom officials said in a statement.

    ​Another passenger, Balu Ganesan, who arrived on the same flight was held after officials recovered three bundles of gold paste weighing 622 grams from his rectum.

    The officials further mentioned that a similar incident took place on Friday where Syed Ahamedulla, Santhosh Selvam and Abdullah who arrived from Dubai and Sharjah by flights EK 542 and G9471 were intercepted upon exit.

    "On examination they were found to be wearing wigs. Three gold paste packets weighing 2,410 grams were found concealed under their wigs were recovered. The gold was seized under the Customs Act. All three were arrested," the statement read.

    On Saturday, a 24-year-old passenger, Anbazhagan, was also arrested for hiding four packets of gold paste weighing 1,500 grames in his socks and underwear.

    Meanwhile, speaking to Sputnik, a senior official from the Customs department in Chennai, while requesting anonymity, said people are trying to act smart and adapting to innovative ways

    "In recent times we have got cases where passengers have been found hiding it in their underwear, to keeping them in a capsule or packets form inside their stomach," the officer said while adding that some are making gold stripes on their chocolate boxes and even wearing wigs to hide it under their hair.

    "A constant vigil is kept to check for the smuggling of gold. Such attempts are thwarted by taking suitable legal action including seizures of smuggled gold," Anurag Singh Thakur, India's Minister of State for Finance said on 15 March in a response to parliamentarians questioning whether smuggling of gold from abroad in the country is flourishing rapidly.

    Last year, customs officials at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport intercepted a diplomatic consignment from  theUAE containing 30 kg of gold, which was the first such case involving diplomatic baggage. The agencies have been continuing their investigation of this case. The higher custom dutys and sustained demand for bullion despite record prices entices people to smuggle gold into the country.


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