Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) has turned out to be a safe smuggling route, if the huge haul of gold and contraband in recent times is any indication.
In the last two months alone, officers of the Customs Air Intelligence Unit at the BIA have seized contraband worth Rs 1.55 crore and arrested two persons in this connection.
On October 10, a Sri Lankan passenger, Mohamed Hassen Nizamdeen, who had arrived from Dubai, was arrested for concealing 1.75 kilo of gold in his rectum. The gold was in the form of bars.
“There were 15 such tola bars valued at approximately Rs 55 lakh,” an official said. Two days earlier (on October 8), an Indian passenger, Andhar Sarma Chakkrapani of Chennai, who was departing to Kuala Lumpur, was caught with Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), a psychotropic substance under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.
The contraband weighed close to two kilo and is valued at around Rs 50 lakh a kilo in the international market, officials said.
“On different occasions, three passengers holding Indian passports, travelling to Kuala Lumpur, were arrested for attempting to smuggle ketamine.
A total of 13.5 kilo of ketamine, another psychotropic substance, was seized. Ketamine is valued approximately at Rs 10 lakh per kilo in the international market,” a senior official said.
All these arrests, which saw seizure of contraband worth an estimated Rs 1.4 crore, were made in the last six months.
Red sanders wood
In August, five Chinese nationals were arrested on two separate occasions while attempting to smuggle red sanders wood to China. About 240 kilo of wood valued approximately at Rs 12 lakh were seized by the Customs Air Intelligence Unit.
Red sanders wood, an endangered species of flora, protected under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES), is another commodity which is being smuggled out of India. The officials are yet to ascertain the total number of cases booked at the airport this year and the value of contraband seized.
“These are some of the interesting cases in the last six months. There were many more in the beginning of the year. We will be able to arrive at a number by the end of the financial year,” a senior official told Deccan Herald.
He said compared with 2010, there was a big increase in such activity in 2011. A total of 147 smuggling cases were booked at BIA in 2010, while 169 cases were booked in 2011. This accounted for items worth around Rs 53.5 crore seized last year, an increase of more than 50 per cent from Rs 34.68 crore in 2010.