Gold Smuggling: Three men including Air India staff held in Kochi airport

Vishnu, Abhilash

Nedumbassery: Three men, including two ground-handling staff in Kochi airport, were arrested for smuggling gold weighing 1.37 kilogram. Vishnu and Abhilash, who are employed at the Air India Transport Service Limited were caught red-handed while helping Muvattupuzha native Muhammed Fasil to smuggle gold via the airport.

A team from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence arrived at the Kochi airport on Wednesday after receiving a tip-off on the gold smuggling. The team nabbed Abhilash while he was receiving the gold from Faisal from the lavatory near the arrival hall. Later, Vishnu’s involvement also surfaced when DRI quizzed Abhilash in detail. Soon, DRI recorded the arrest of the three men.

The investigation team informed that the gang from Muvattupuzha who were held for smuggling gold worth crores years ago have become active. As per the reports, over 2000 kilograms of gold had been smuggled via Kochi airport during the period of 2015-2016 with the help of emigration officials and ground-handling staff. The special investigation team of Customs sent notices to 63 persons and arrested 36 persons in connection with the smuggling cases during this period. At least 9 staff of the airport, including emigration officials, were imprisoned after imposing charges under COFEPOSA Act.

The persons who were arrested in these cases were later released and became active in gold smuggling again. A Muvattupuzha native was booked for illegally transporting Saudi Riyal worth Rs 2.26 crore via Kochi airport on August 25. Following a detailed interrogation of him, the investigation team could fetch evidence regarding the involvement of the Muvattupuzha gang in this case too.

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