Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar said gold being hidden inside the aircraft is an alarming trend.
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Three attempts to smuggle gold by hiding it under seats or toilets of the aircraft which landed at Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) at Nedumbassery has put the Customs officers on their toes. The officers suspect the smugglers have been receiving help from the crew or ground handling staff, following which it has been decided to enhance intelligence gathering to prevent such activities.
Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar said gold being hidden inside the aircraft is an alarming trend. In an attempt,11 gold bars and a gold chain were concealed inside the water heater and the toilet of the aircraft. In another flight that came from Dubai, two gold chains and three gold bars were found hidden at the toilet. In a similar fashion, 30 grams of gold was found left inside another flight which landed from Dubai. In all three cases, persons who brought the gold could not be traced.
"There can be multiple possibilities. One is that the smugglers leave the gold inside the toilet or under the seat which is collected by the crew or cleaning staff who easily can bring it out. Every flight on its arrival has to be checked. In one case, the gold was hidden above the lights in the toilet. We have to check the aircraft completely to ensure no gold is hidden," Sumit Kumar said.
There is also a chance the gold might have been left there by the smugglers fearing capture by the officers while deboarding the flight. "Another possibility is that one carrier hid the gold at the aircraft knowing well the next trip of the flight. Another carrier who would board the flight will take possession of the gold and deboard at another airport," he said.
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According to the Customs officers, discussions will be held with airline companies to prevent frequent smuggling of the gold in a similar fashion. Similarly, the crew members and ground handling staff will be sensitised. "We give rewards to people who inform about any kind of gold smuggling. The financial benefits of smuggling gold attract people to act as carriers. However, they will be given better rewards if they help us in the detection of gold," he said.