Changing trend in gold smuggling from Middle East to Myanmar: DRI report

New Delhi: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has revealed that now mostly gold coming from Myanmar is being smuggled into India, and this has started after Covid-19.

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Earlier, a gold smuggler used to bring gold mostly from the Middle East but this trend has changed with time.

The DRI learnt this in a covert intelligence operation with code-name ‘Molten Metal’. The DRI registered as many as 160 cases and seized 833.07 kg gold worth Rs 405.35 crore, in between April 2021 and March 2022. Most of the gold seized by DRI was of Myanmar origin while earlier it used to be of the Middle East.

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“Even during pandemic time when the entire world was battling with Covid-19, the gold smuggling was going up and DRI had to make extra arrangements to catch the culprits. In a significant shift from the trend noticed in 2019-20, the largest amount of gold seized by the DRI in 2020-21 and 2021-22 was of Myanmar origin. In 2019-20, the largest originating country of smuggled gold was the Middle East,” said the DRI’s report.

In operation ‘Molten Metal’, the DRI had been keeping an eye on several Indian and foreign citizens, including Chinese, Taiwanese and South-Korean nationals, who were involved in smuggling gold into India from China, Hong Kong etc using the air cargo route.

The DRI indicated that the gold smuggled in the form of machinery parts was being remoulded into cylinder shapes before being disposed of in the local market.

“Acting on the said intelligence, the DRI officers examined an import consignment at Air Cargo Complex, Indira Gandhi International Airport. The consignment was found to contain electroplating machines fitted with transformers. The ‘E’ and ‘I’ shaped laminates of the transformers were found to have been replaced with the ones made of gold and coated with nickel, essentially to hide the identity of gold.”

“Nearly one kg of gold was recovered from each of the 80 imported electroplating machines. In a swift follow-up operation, further recovery of over 5 kg of foreign-origin gold smuggled into India earlier adopting an identical modus operandi, was made from a Delhi-based jeweller,” the report said.

The DRI conducted raids in several rented premises in Chattarpur and Gurugram, and held four foreign nationals, two from South Korea and one each from China and Taiwan, found to be using sophisticated metallurgical techniques to remould the smuggled gold into cylindrical shapes for further disposal.

These activities were being conducted by the foreign nationals in rented accommodations in plush localities of South Delhi and Gurugram and extreme precautions were being taken by them to keep the illegal nature of their activities hidden even from their immediate neighbours.

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