CBI exposes Tiruchi airport nexus, books 19

Subsequently, they emerged with baggage. Some were even seen withdrawing cash from the ATM and entering the terminal.

Investigators intercepted all the passengers who arrived by the scheduled flight, even after some passed through the Customs checkpoint, and took them back for screening. It was found that at least a dozen passengers, suspected to be carriers regularly visiting neighbouring countries, were in possession of gold items, liquor, cigarette packs and other articles.

Passengers had made false declarations that they were not carrying dutiable products, and were allowed to go though they were in possession of goods requiring levy of Customs duty.

Investigations revealed that the smugglers/carriers paid bribes to the Customs officials to help them evade duty. Nine suspects allegedly admitted to having paid money to a Customs staff. Based on their statements on the modus operandi and the money paid to Customs officials on Sunday, CBI officials opened a safe belonging to a Customs official, Freddy Edward, and seized Rs. 9.04 lakh in unaccounted cash.

Bribes collected

A note containing the names of passengers and the money they had paid as bribe was also recovered. It was also found during the check that a passenger named Murugesh was collecting bribes on behalf of Customs officials, allegedly on the instructions of the Assistant Commissioner.

The accused passengers were regular visitors to Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

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