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Gold bars from the vault of a bank and Swiss one franc coins are seen in this illustration picture taken in Zurich November 20, 2014 (representational image).Reuters file

Indian revenue intelligence sleuths last week busted a gold-smuggling racket that used to tempt passengers flying from Singapore and Dubai to Tiruchi and Madurai. The operation resulted in the seizure of 5.9 kg of gold worth Rs 1.8 crore and arrest of eight suspects from three Indian cities.

Officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), acting on specific intelligence, kept vigil on vehicles plying on the Madurai-Chennai national highway over a period of time. On Friday, at the Chengalpet toll plaza they stopped a Maruti car and saw two passengers inside the vehicle. 

Their behaviour aroused suspicion that made the sleuths interrogate the duo, who confessed to carrying gold bars received from passengers at the Tiruchi airport, reported The Hindu, besides shedding light on the racket itself.

This led the DRI officials to a safehouse in Chennai where 10 people, who were part of the racket, were staying. Their job was to collect the consignments from passengers arriving from Singapore and Dubai to Tiruchi and Madurai. 

Detailed planning
Reminiscent of the modus operandi of smugglers shown in Indian films, the racket, operating for more than a year, used to lure passengers coming from Singapore and Dubai with convincing arguments for carrying the gold.

"They would approach the passengers headed here from Dubai and Singapore and seek help in handing over the gold jewels to some of their relatives back home. The gang would communicate the details of such passengers through WhatsApp to their men here. They would collect the gold jewellery from people here," the New Indian Express quoted an officer as saying. 

In Chennai, the 10 people would be given details of the passengers.

"They would receive flight numbers, arrival time and photograph of the passenger bringing the gold. We seized some crude gold bars concealed in cutting pliers and gold jewellery from the house and apprehended Mansoor (28) and Raja Mohammed (32)," the daily quoted an investigator as saying in Chennai.

"We found some cutting pliers that had gold bars sheathed in the rubber handles. Gold chains in plastic bags were found neatly concealed in baggage. This is a major smuggling syndicate that has been operating for more than a year now," he added.

Chennai ultimate destination
The gold collected from passengers at Tiruchi and Madurai airports used to be carried by road to Chennai.