Kochi: Gold worth lakhs of Rupees was seized by Customs on Friday from a woman passenger at Kannur International Airport, with officers suspecting it to be the handiwork of a Gulf-based smuggling syndicate using women as carriers.
The 32-year-old woman, who arrived from Sharjah, allegedly carried the gold concealed in her underwear, Customs sources said.
They said officers of the Air Customs, Kannur, seized 883 grams of gold from her possession when she arrived along with her brother and three children in an Air India Express Flight.
The woman, hailing from a north Kerala district, was arrested, but released on bail, the sources said.
Customs officials suspect that the woman was recruited by a Gulf-based Kerala gold smuggling syndicate, exploiting her family’s poor financial condition.
They said preliminary investigations revealed that she returned from Sharjah due to the poor financial condition of her husband, who is in a low-level job in a firm there.
She came back with her brother and children using the tickets allegedly offered by the syndicate for smuggling gold.
A senior officer said they suspected that the syndicate approached the woman offering free tickets when the family was in dire need of money for their return journey to Kerala.
He told PTI that the Gulf-based Kerala gold smuggling syndicates are very active even during the COVID-19 pandemic and women and children are being used as carriers, exploiting their socio-economic conditions due to job losses and failed businesses in the Gulf.
The officer said the woman would be summoned for interrogation after completing her mandatory quarantine to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.
In another development, Customs sleuths at Kozhikode International Airport seized 175 grams of 24-carat gold worth Rs 7.99 lakh and 6,000 cigarettes from a passenger who arrived from Sharjah on Thursday, officials said.