Since the passenger flight services were completely suspended for three months, smugglers started to use the cargo flights for smuggling of drugs and gold while a few passengers who came by Vande Bharat special flights were also used as carriers by the smugglers’ network. While the world was suffering due to the global pandemic, the smugglers were managing to do their ‘duty’ without much hassle.
The smugglers who targeted the cargo flights tried to bring in goods like gold, red sanders, hawala money, and drugs in the name of medical equipment. Sources said that smugglers mentioned them as medical equipment since they will be given priority and will be processed very quickly. After the Vande Bharat flights began to operate, the smugglers targeted those returning from abroad for sneaking in gold to India.
In the past six months, the Customs had registered more number of cases of drug smuggling and seized drugs alone worth Rs 9.28 crore and even seized LSD stamps, which arrived from the Netherlands.
The drugs were smuggled from the Netherlands, Germany, France, Britain, Belgium, the US and Australia.
Gold worth Rs 3.39 crore was seized in the last six months and the yellow metal came from counties like Dubai, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh while red sanders worth Rs 50 lakh was seized when it was about to be smuggled to Malaysia in a cargo flight. The Customs also seized hawala money worth Rs 1.75 crore which was about to be smuggled to Singapore.
The Chennai customs had arrested 32 people including a woman and have registered 26 cases of smuggling so far during the lockdown.