2 more Sri Lankans held with smuggled gold

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 18 September 2013 21:50 IST

Gold seized at Dabolim air port

Goa’s central excise and customs officials today seized biggest ever haul of gold at Dabolim air port – 12 kg of gold worth Rs 3.6 crore – smuggled from Dubai, to be delivered in Mumbai by Sri Lankan smugglers.

Two Sri Lankan nationals – Mohamed Zuhar Shike Suleiman and Mohamed Riyaz Mohamed Niyaz – were de-boarded and taken into the custody by customs officials.

The modus operandi was to use an international flight, which gets converted into a domestic aircraft for Goa, after it lands in Mumbai from Dubai.

According to Goa’s central excise and customs commissioner V P C Rao, they are on a lookout for one Shanmugam, a Tamilian, who brought the cosignment from Mumbai to Goa, as a domestic traveller.

The Mumbai-based commissionerate has also been alerted to look out for two more Sri Lankan nationals, who actually brought the smuggled gold from Dubai to Mumbai.

The smuggled gold contains 12 gold bars of one kilogram each from the Gulf Gold Refinery.

As informed by Rao, the gold bars were found underneath two seats in the back row of the Air India aircraft, wrapped up in carbon paper in three different packets.

The customs officials got alerted when they questioned Shanmugam, who landed in Goa from Mumbai as a domestic traveller, started giving vague replies.

He was occupying seat number 26F, incidentally the same number used by the smugglers last month to smuggle gold.

The officials had arrested three persons on 21 August, including two Sri Lankan nationals, for smuggling four kgs of gold worth Rs 1.33 crore.

Having suspicion, the officials rushed to the aircraft, which was going back to Mumbai, to find two Sri Lankan nationals occupying two seats – 26E and 26F – underneath which they found the gold packets hidden.

Rao said the gold was smuggled by two other Sri Lankans from Dubai to Mumbai, but left it underneath the seats while getting out from the aircraft.

One of the seats was occupied by Shanmugam from Goa to Mumbai while the identity of another passenger was still not known.

The seats were then occupied by two Sri Lankans – now in the custody of customs – from Goa to Mumbai.

“The consignment was to be ultimately delivered in Mumbai”, said Rao. 

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