VISAKHAPATNAM: In perhaps the biggest ever haul, officials of the Chennai unit of the Directorate of the Revenue Intelligence (DRI) busted a major smuggling racket and seized 62 kg of gold sneaked in from Singapore and Malaysia.
The gold, worth about `17 crore, was concealed in electronic appliances by passengers in three international flights which arrived at the airport here on Sunday night.
Assisted by the Customs department, DRI officials arrested about 55 people, most of them from Tamil Nadu.
The first group of 20 passengers came in the Air Asia flight from Malaysia on Sunday night and were found carrying electronic goods ranging from television sets and microwave ovens to DVD players and mobile phones.
Authorities intercepted the passengers while they were waiting to collect their baggage and checked the gadgets, only to find gold bars concealed in them.
Minutes later, another batch of 10 passengers landed in the Silk Air flight from Singapore with similar ‘luggage’. They were followed by another 25 passengers by the Malindo flight from Malaysia. Most of the passengers were frequent travellers and were only ‘couriers’, said a customs official.
Speaking to Express, Assistant Commissioner of Customs (Preventives) S K Dutta confirmed that a raid was conducted. He said that all the passengers were being questioned and the modus operandi besides the names of handlers are yet to be ascertained.
The DRI officials are making arrangements to shift the accused to Chennai for probe and they are likely to be transported on Tuesday.
Sources in the customs department and the airport authorities revealed that the DRI team landed in Visakhapatnam on Sunday with credible information about the operation.
The latest haul is the fourth incident this year. About 11 kg of the yellow metal was seized here till June 20