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AIU seizes gold worth Rs6.9m from Mumbai airport, aircraft washrooms

AIU seizes gold worth Rs6.9m from Mumbai airport, aircraft washrooms

MUMBAI: The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the customs department on Friday detected two cases of gold smuggling, in which the accused hid the precious metal worth Rs6.9 million in toilets.

In the first case, Mohammedali Kekepuram Mohammed, 41, an executive in a Dubai firm, was arrested for smuggling gold from Dubai. After AIU officials found him moving suspiciously, they followed him to a washroom near the immigration counter. When he left the toilet, the officials intercepted and questioned him.

“We then decided to check the washroom. The gold was hidden in a wall cavity, which was created behind the flush,” said a high-ranking customs officer. The washroom shares the wall with a room used by the plumbing staff and is usually locked. AIU recovered two packets of gold that Mohammed had thrown into the room through the cavity. The 10 gold bars were worth Rs3.4 million.

Authorities suspected other people were involved including airport staff. “We are trying to find the person who was supposed to pick the gold from the plumbers’ room,” said the officer.

In another case, customs officials searching a plane that arrived from Dubai at remote bay found 10 gold bars worth Rs3.4 million. “The gold bars were wrapped with white tape and cleverly concealed below the box of tissue paper in the aircraft’s rear toilet,” said the officer. No arrests have been made in this case and the AIU is trying to find out if an airport employee is involved.

In the past, loaders, cleaners, trolley-handlers and staff from other agencies working at the airport have been arrested for smuggling.