A total of 66 kg smuggled gold valued at Rs 21 crore was seized by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) last week, taking the total seizure to about 2.63 tons of gold for the current fiscal till November, an official statement said.
The Indian Customs had seized 3.22 tons gold during the financial year 2017-18.
“In a major operation launched by DRI against an organised smuggling syndicate, 66 kg of smuggled gold valued at about Rs 21 crore has been seized on December 6 and 7,” the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on Monday.
The seizure was made at Lucknow, Kolkata and two premises in Siliguri. In this operation, four persons were arrested and four cars used in smuggling were seized.
“A specific information was received by the DRI that a smuggling syndicate is actively engaged in smuggling of huge quantity of foreign-origin gold from Bhutan into India through Indo-Bhutan border in West Bengal and sending it to different parts of India,” it said.
On December 6, one car along with two occupants was intercepted by DRI officers after a high-speed chase near Lucknow. A search of the intercepted car resulted in the recovery and seizure of 33 bars of one kg each, valued at Rs 10.56 crore, concealed in a specially made cavity near the driver’s seat.
Of the two occupants, one was the main controller of the syndicate, the Ministry said.
In another related operation launched by DRI officers in the early hours of December 7, a car with two occupants was intercepted near Kolkata and 33 pieces of foreign-origin gold weighing 33 kg valued at Rs 10.46 crore were seized from the occupants.
“The smuggled gold was concealed in a specially built box fixed behind the dash board and also in a specially built cavity near the gearbox of the car,” it said.
In swift follow-up action at Siliguri, Rs 3.5 lakh cash, suspected to be the proceeds of smuggling, and two more cars were seized under the provisions of the Customs Act.
All the cars were found to have specially built cavities, indicating their usage for carrying smuggled gold in the past as well.
In the current fiscal 2018-19, a large number of cases of gold smuggling have been booked. During April to November, Indian Customs had seized about 2.63 tons of gold.
“During the financial year 2017-18 (April to March), Indian Customs had seized 3.22 tons gold which was 103 per cent higher than in 2016-17,” the Ministry said.
The gold is believed to be smuggled from India’s land borders with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and China.