The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) Wednesday intercepted a 23-year-old Palestinian at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport for allegedly smuggling 10.5 kg gold worth Rs 3.5 crore. This is being touted as significant seizure from a single courier. AIU’s previous seizures have were limited to 5 kg gold or less.
The accused, Mohammed Al Sher Rana, had taken an early morning Gulf Air flight from Bahrain. He was expected to return in 24 hours after the consignment was picked up outside the airport, Customs officials said.
“He did not have check-in baggage and had entered the country with just a rugged hand bag,” said a Customs officer.
During interrogation, Rana feigned ignorance and claimed that he did not know “smuggling gold was illegal in India”, said the officer.
The smuggled gold was packed in 12 identical rectangular bars. “He is from a poor background and is studying engineering. He was in the country only for this assignment,” said the officer.
“It looks like a desperate case as he was promised a meagre $500 for the deal,” said the officer.
Officials said there has been a surge in cases of gold smuggling through mostly Asian couriers on regular routes. This is the first time AIU found gold smuggling cartel using a Palestinian national, the officer said.