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DRI seizes 3.30 kg of gold from airport; two arrested

Passenger, ground handling staff may be part of racket

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials on Friday seized 3.30 kg of gold and arrested two persons, including a ground handling staff, from the Cochin International Airport.

The arrested were identified as Paul Jose, 28, of Nayathode in Ernakulam, an employee of a ground handling agency at CIAL, and Muhammed Ashraf, 27, of Malappuram who landed at the airport on an Emirates flight from Dubai during the early morning hours.

The duo were suspected to be part of a racket involved in multiple incidents of gold smuggling in the past. They had attempted to exchange the gold at a toilet in the airport terminal.

On the radar

The ground handling staff reportedly confessed to have played a part in similar gold smuggling incidents. He was reportedly on the radar of DRI sleuths before he was picked up following a tip-off.

The passenger had smuggled in gold in the form of two whole bars, four pieces of a bar and four coins by taping it inside his hand baggage. According to sources, the ground handling staff usually smuggled out the gold through the staff gate in the guise of providing passenger assistance services such as wheelchairs. He used to hide the gold either in his body or inside his shoes.

The DRI suspects that a third person played the role of a mediator through communication channels such as WhatsApp calls and set up the meetings. A probe is on to track down the person suspected to have been waiting outside the airport to collect the gold.

The accused will be produced before the court on Saturday.

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