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How Customs officials stay a step ahead of the criminal minded

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on March 26, 2021

The 2009 Tamil movie Ayan highlighted the modus operandi adopted by smugglers to bring in gold, drugs or currencies which in real life smugglers have employed but what they have not bargained for is that customs officers too are prepared at the Chennai airport.

In the movie, the character played by actor Surya smuggles diamonds inside a wig, drug smugglers swallow drugs stuffed in capsules.

On Sunday, two passengers arriving in Chennai from Dubai were intercepted at the airport. Their hairstyles looked suspicious. On examination they were found to be wearing wigs and had partly tonsured heads. Two gold paste packets weighing 698 gm were found concealed under the wigs.

Similarly, four passengers bound for Sharjah were intercepted at the departure terminal after clearing Immigration and were proceeding towards the security hold area. Again, they were found to be wearing wigs which concealed 67,500 Saudi Riyals.

In another case, a passenger of Trichy on arrival by the same flight was intercepted. He had swallowed three bundles of gold paste totalling 622 gm. He was arrested, according to Customs release.

Based on information, one passenger of Ramanathapuram, who had arrived from Dubai on March 10 was intercepted by officers. On questioning, he confessed to having swallowed gold paste capsules. He was admitted at the Stanley government hospital on the same day. After a week, 34 cylindrical capsules weighing 372 gm were recovered.

His check-in bag contained four iPhone 12 Pro, six Airpods Pro, six Apple watches and six refurbished laptops totally valued at ₹6.85 lakhs. These were seized, the Customs department said.

While the department officials are tight lipped on how they identify such offenders, sources said that apart from informers, body language and eye contact are an important to find out the offenders. Officials are also well trained to identify the offenders.

Published on March 26, 2021

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