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Published on : Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Forty-five AirAsia passengers were among 56 people detained by Indian authorities at the Visakhapatnam International Airport in Andhra Pradesh state, and from all of whom they seized 62kg of gold bars worth 17 crore rupees (about RM10 million), according to the Times of India newspaper.
It was not immediately clear whether Malaysians were among those arrested.
The newspaper said that acting on a tip-off, officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) of Chennai, in a special operation on Sunday night, travelled to the newly commissioned international airport and carried out thorough checks on two flights from Kuala Lumpur and one from Singapore.
The officers initially checked 20 passengers of an AirAsia flight who were carrying a lot of electronic items, and found gold bars concealed inside them, the daily reported.
A check on 10 passengers of a Silk Air flight from Singapore also found gold bars in their electronic goods.
A check on 25 AirAsia passengers on a second flight from Kuala Lumpur also revealed smuggled gold bars.
According to the daily, many of those arrested were frequent travellers and most of them were acting as ‘couriers’.
The daily quoted DRI officials as saying that those detained were mere “carriers” and their job ends with the handing over of the gold to someone outside the airport.
“They indulge in such business for monetary considerations. Depending upon the quantity, the carriers would get paid,” it quoted the DRI authorities as saying.
The couriers would always look for new avenues and new destinations, the officials said.
Another possibility is that new flights would have been introduced between Visakhapatnam and Southeast Asian destinations or the frequency of flights between the two destinations could have been increased, added the officials.
So, it could have attracted the couriers to switch over to the new destination, away from their home, they said.