New Delhi, June 14 () Two Uzbekistan nationals, including a woman, were apprehended at the Indira Gandhi International Airport for smuggling 16.5 kg gold worth Rs 10,39,50,00.
During the initial search, nothing was found on them as they had abandoned the bag containing gold near the conveyor belt to deceive the officials. When they realised they were exposed, the accused attempted to flee by taking another flight but were eventually caught.
The customs officials stated that both accused were apprehended based on specific intelligence indicating that individuals from a Central Asian country would be travelling to Delhi with a significant quantity of foreign-origin gold. As a result, the customs officers at IGI airport maintained strict vigilance over the arriving passengers.
“One passenger was identified based on the provided intelligence and was monitored from the moment they disembarked from the flight. The accused was intercepted; however, the search of her baggage and person did not reveal any contraband,” said the official.
A second passenger was then identified based on the same intelligence and was observed acting suspiciously.
“She was kept under surveillance, and when she attempted to cross the Green Channel, she was also intercepted, and her baggage was also inspected, but nothing incriminating was found,” the official said.
Later on, the officials discovered that she had abandoned her baggage inside the Customs Arrival Hall due to fear of being caught.
The customs officers searched and located an unmarked bag lying near Belt No. 9, where the accused had been seen moving around.
“On scanning this bag, suspicious images were observed suggesting the presence of gold items. Since no claimant was available, the bag was opened, and it led to the recovery of approximately 16.5 kg gold in the form of chains,” said the official.
The officials then immediately reviewed the CCTV footage to identify the person who had left the bag. A woman was seen leaving the bag near the belt.
Vigorous efforts were made to trace her. Suspecting that she might attempt to flee the country, a team of customs officers was also immediately dispatched to the departure side of IGI airport.
From the flight manifest of the departing flight operated by Air Astana to Almaty, a passenger with an identical name was found, matching the passenger’s name on the earlier HY 421 flight. At this point, a person-to-person check was conducted on the passengers departing for Almaty (Kazakhstan) via Air Astana.
“The fleeing passenger was identified and detained based on the striking resemblance in the CCTV footage. She confessed to abandoning the bag. Based on her information, the first accused, who was the main suspect, was also apprehended,” said the official.
Further investigations into the matter are ongoing.