CHENNAI: The accomplice of the smuggler who tried to slip 23 gold bars past customs officers on Sunday was nabbed in a late night operation. He had fled the airport without detection and had made his way to a hotel near the airport, from where a team from the Air Intelligence Unit of the Customs department arrested him late Sunday night.
Express had reported that Mumbai-based businessman Om Prakash Trilok Chandwani had arrived in the city on an Air India Express flight (IX 680) from Singapore at 3.30 pm. He had attempted to slip past the immigration and customs lobby by sliding through the green channel with two bags.
“We had been watching him ever since he got off the flight and he appeared very nervous. So we checked his baggage,” said a customs officer. They found that 23 bars of gold, weighing 1 kg each, had been wrapped in double linen cloth. He neither had sales receipts nor any document supporting the origin of the gold. He was taken in and grilled for over six hours before he gave up his accomplice.
Their plan had been to effect a switch and fly routine, which has been employed by smugglers at least 14 times at Chennai since January. Based on CCTV footage and the name that he had given them, the customs team zeroed in on Pritpal Singh Kalsi, who had also flown in on the same flight, but had slipped out of the airport when it became clear that his partner would not be giving him the gold. “The team went and brought him in after they traced the hotel he had gone to. They both admitted to being partners and explained their modus operandi,” said Customs Commissioner Sanjay Kumar Agarwal.
As to how they expected to get such large stock of gold out of the airport without detection, officials alleged that a CISF inspector was being probed as he knew one of the smugglers. But officials dismissed it as “just one of several inquiries which has not led to much else.”
Gold Smuggler"s Accomplice Caught in Hotel Near Airport After Midnight Hunt