Kochi: The Customs department has found that gold was smuggled at least 21 times in diplomatic parcels through the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
Customs got to know about it during the interrogation of Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, the two main accused in the gold smuggling case.
A gang of the both accused first sent a ‘ test dose’ of two diplomatic parcels without gold in June 2019. After the ‘ test dose’, no one was ready to fund for the smuggling operation because of the increase in the gold price.
Due to this Sandeep and K T Ramees, another accused in the case, approached hawala dealers to support their operation. The gang’s gold smuggling ramped up in November and December 2019.
They started off with 3.5 kg of gold. However, the Customs Department believed 18 diplomatic parcels had 5-10 kg of smuggled gold each. Then there was a break in the smuggling due to COVID-19 outbreak.
Later, they resumed smuggling in June. Hawala groups started investing in the smuggling operation during this time. One June 24, 16.5kg of gold was smuggled and on June 28, 25 kg was brought in through the diplomatic channel.
The 30 kgs of gold was seized by the Customs officials at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on June 30.