Chinese gangs implicated in India gold smuggling
New evidence suggests the involvement of Chinese mafia in smuggling gold into India.
Posted: Tuesday , 22 Apr 2014
Mumbai (Mineweb) -
A Dubai based Chinese mafia appears to be playing a key role in gold smuggling incidents, especially in South India, customs officials in India say.
Over the last few months, customs officials at the Rajiv Gandhi international Airport in Hyderabad, have detained more than 50 passengers and recovered approximately 80 kilograms of gold. On April 1, about 7.70 kilogram of gold was seized from two passengers by the Directorate of revenue intelliegence sleuths, which was the first instance to alert the investigating team about the role of the neighbouring nation.
"Though it sounds incredulous, investigators have come across enough evidence to indicate that Chinese gangs are hiring operators in other countries and smuggling gold into Hyderabad, Kerala and other Indian cities," said Kalyan Revella, Assistant Commissioner, Customs and Central Excise, at Hyderabad.
Revella said that his investigators had found passengers from Dubai, Singapore and Malaysia carrying illegal gold into Hyderabad. "During the course of the investigation, most of them disclosed that they had been handed the gold to smuggle into the city. They were to get a commission of $8,254 (Rs 500,000) per 1 kilogram," he said.
"Based on the confessions of detained passengers, we have investigated the cases and got some leads that some middlemen were hired by gangs based in China, who were targetting other gangs in Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai. The motive of the gangs is to smuggle gold to India, and the middlemen lure passengers by offering attractive commissions," Revella added.
Those who were arrested said that a Chinese gang was instrumental in re-shaping the gold and placing it in various items like talcum powder tins, speakers, trolley bag handles, iron box base, cellphone batteries, and sometimes even coating the precious metal with silver or mercury to escape the scanners.
Asked to comment, Haresh Soni, chairman, All India Gems and Jewellery Trade Federation, declined to speak about the involvement of the Chinese mafia in the smuggling episodes, but added that more gold has been smuggled into India in the past four months than in the previous 10 years.
Incidents of gold smuggling in India remains stubbornly high. Over the weekend, doctors operating on a 63-year-old businessman hit a gold mine, finding as many as 12 gold biscuits weighing a total of 396 grams inside his abdomen.
The man had reportedly swallowed the gold biscuits, each weighing 33 grams, in a bid to smuggle them into the country from Singapore. He had even managed to elude security checks at the airport, but then since he could not get them out, had gone in for surgery. The police was informed and the man has been taken into custody.
On Monday morning, police in Kanpur in North India, seized 11 kilograms of gold, comprising nine gold bricks of 1 kilogram each and 2.270 kilograms of gold ornaments from a car. Three persons traveling in the car have been detained.
Again on Monday morning, security forces seized one kilogram of gold being smuggled from Nepal, and arrested one person from Bihar's East Champaran district, in North India.
In the past week, two international flights have been the focus of customs officials in India, after a combined 15.2 kilogram of gold was smuggled into India aboard passenger jets.
In one instance, an off-duty cabin crew member who was travelling as a passenger onboard a flight to Hyderabad was caught with 13 kilograms of gold in her baggage on April 9, 2014.
Again on April 13, a flight taking off for the Cochin International Airport in Kerala was searched by Indian customs following a tip off. Around 2.2 kilograms of of gold was discovered concealed under a passenger's seat.
A gold chain, gold bangles and gold bars cut into several pieces were all concealed in a plastic packet under the seat.