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‘Gap-in-wall’ gold smugglers nabbed at Chennai airport

Another passenger (person 3) at the check-in counter discreetly caught the package dropped by person 2 from the “hole” in the lounge wall, sources said, adding that he then casually slipped it into his shoe.

Person 3 then proceeded to check in, where he was flagged for excess baggage as planned. Sources said that under the guise of throwing away extra bags, he left the airport and handed over the package to the recipient, Person 4.

All the while, the fifth passenger, person 5, remained in the check-in area to keep watch and raise the alarm in case security personnel got wind of the operation, sources said.

The entire series of transfers took place in the space of a few minutes, they said.

Police action

All three departing passengers and the recipient were detained by customs. However, the transit passenger could not be traced. The gold paste was seized under the Customs Act.

Apart from the hole in the wall, the gang of smugglers relied on two other points: first, security in the arrival area is much tighter, while the departure area is relatively uncontrolled and only two officers are stationed there, according to sources. Second, there are no restrictions on the amount of gold that passengers departing from India can take with them; in this case, if caught, Person 3 could claim he would report it, sources added.

In this particular case, arresting the consignee helped the customs officials to end the operation, sources said, adding that all agencies have been asked to remain vigilant following this incident.