While closely monitoring passengers arriving at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI), a slipper caught attention of custom officers. The slipper, which appeared ordinary, was found to be worth around Rs 27 lakh later.
Three attempts were foiled last year, custom officials are now extra careful while scanning slippers. On Wednesday, they seized gold worth around Rs 27 lakh that was concealed in slippers by two passengers arriving from Bangkok at the IGI airport. Officials said, two of them, who arrived at T3 of the IGI Airport with Indian passport, were intercepted after they had crossed green channel.
They were intercepted by a team led by Deputy Commissioner of Customs (IGI), Govind Garg. The duo had concealed 938 grams of gold cut in 118 small pieces stuck under the sole of the slippers that they were wearing with another layer of rubber on it. Market value of the gold seized is around Rs.26.96 lakhs. The gold was seized under Section 110 of the Customs Act 1962.
A custom official said, “This is a new modus operandi. The passengers reached Delhi from Bangkok on a Thai Airways flight were stopped for checking. A total of 118 cut pieces embedded in the false cavity of slippers were seized from them. The duo said they brought the gold to sell it here.”
From hiding gold in diapers to inside a papaya, smugglers tried all possible tricks to hoodwink customs officials last year. According to customs, as they have increased the vigil, smugglers are trying every possible trick to smuggle gold into Delhi. There have been cases of gold stitched into a bra, stuffed in the rod of a baby walker and tied on thigh guards and around the waist.
Against the 6.6 kilos of gold seized in 2012-13 financial year, the quantity seized in 2013-14 increased to 384 kilos, and reached an all-time high of 574 kilos in 2014-15. The next year, the quantity seized fell.
Earlier, the most common form of smuggling was by hiding it in the shoe sole, officials claimed. “In the 80s and 90s, when gold smuggling was at its peak, several cases were reported of smugglers caught hiding gold bars in the shoe sole. The shoes were specially prepared for it. Later, bags were designed with false cavities where gold could be hidden to avoid detection,” the official added.
However, this year, after demonetization, seizure of gold has gone up by many folds. People have been smuggling cash and gold in fruits, diapers, in body parts and even under shoes and slippers.
Earlier this week a passenger, travelling from Dubai was caught by customs officials at Delhi airport for allegedly carrying gold foils pasted with black insulated tape on to both sides of a corrugated carton. Gold worth Rs 18.5 lakh, weighing 700 grams was recovered.
“We have been examining each passenger since the demonetisation drive since people have been using innovative methods to smuggle gold and cash inside. Even in this case, we had to remove the sole of the slippers to find the gold,” said a customs officer.