Fly Dubai passenger's face mask costs nearly Rs 3 lakh
Mohamed Abdulla's mask appeared to be unusually heavy
Criminals have started to take advantage of the Covid crisis to smuggle valuable items into the country, with face masks, which have become an integral part of life in the post-Covid world, being used to conceal contraband.
Customs authorities seized gold, iPhones, laptops and cigarettes worth Rs 11.13 lakh at the Chennai airport on Wednesday (March 31).
A 40-year-old person named Mohamed Abdulla, a resident of Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu, who had arrived from Dubai on a Fly Dubai flight, was intercepted at the exit as he was trying to rush through. On questioning, he appeared to be nervous and his voice was not clearly audible. His mask also appeared to be unusually heavy.
The customs officials suspected that something was amiss. When Abdullah was asked to remove his mask, he resisted. However, the Customs personnel seized the mask, which when cut open, revealed a brown pouch wrapped with adhesive tapes. The pouch was sandwiched between two masks stitched together.
The mask and pouch used to hide the gold. Image courtesy: Customs
A total of 85 gram of gold paste was recovered from the mask. On extraction, the paste yielded 65 gram of 24K purity gold valued at Rs 2.93 lakh. It was confiscated under the Customs Act.
On searching further, Abdulla's check-in bag revealed 10 iPhone 12 Pros, eight used iPhones, nine used laptops, two cartons of Gudang Garam cigarettes valued together at Rs 8.2 lakh. These items were also confiscated under the Customs Act. Further investigation is underway.
Gold seized by the Customs officials. Image courtesy: Customs
Officials at airports in India have been facing a tough time to contain criminals who have been using innovative methods to smuggle goods into the country and also out of it. Last month, banned goods were seized from vacuum flasks, deodorant bottles, exhaust fans, bodybuilding equipment and even kidswear, at several airports like Delhi, Varanasi, Jaipur and Amritsar.
Gold was also found concealed in an airport trolley. Drugs were found hidden in lehenga (traditional Indian women's wear).