Sri Lanka-Tamil Nadu smuggling corridor on overdrive mode: Agencies on high alert
The customs officials have found that smuggling in a kilogram of gold into India fetches Rs 6 lakh. Moreover the ones smuggling it into India are paid around Rs 40,000 per consignment.
New Delhi, May 02: There is a heightened sense of alert along the Tamil Nadu coast as well as the airport in the wake of the rising number of smuggling cases. The Intelligence Bureau had signalled that there would be a rise in such activities considering the turmoil in Sri Lanka.
On Friday, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) arrested Thangakesavarn and Nandini, two Malaysian national from the Coimbatore International Airport with 4.2 kilograms of gold worth Rs 2.26 crore.
This came in the wake of the air customs wing arrested a Sri Lankan national with 3.2 kilograms of gold from the Madurai airport. His questioning revealed that the Tamil Nadu international airports have become a major point for the smuggling of gold to India. He said that countries such as Sri Lanka and Malaysia are the main sources of gold that is being brought into India.
The customs officials have found that smuggling in a kilogram of gold into India fetches Rs 6 lakh. Moreover the ones smuggling it into India are paid around Rs 40,000 per consignment. Their air fares are also taken care of the probe revealed.
Off late the number of such incidents have increased especially from Sri Lanka. On a daily basis at least Rs 70 lakh of gold is being smuggled into Tamil Nadu from the above mentioned countries, the probe further revealed.
An Intelligence Bureau official tells OneIndia that while the smuggling racket between Sri Lanka and India is nothing new, it has increased in the past couple of month at least by 5 fold. Officials are also looking at whether the money being generated by this racket is being used to fund terror and other anti national acts.
Apart from gold the other menace from Sri Lanka is related to marijuana and star tortoises.
The star tortoise racket came to light following the arrest of one Wasim Sharif alias Machli. He had been arrested in 2017 with 1,102 tortoises. An operation called Operation Dragon conducted between 2016 and 2019 by the Wildlife Justice Commission, an NGO based in Netherlands helped uncover this racket.
The probe revealed that the Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is a species native to India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. This is the most trafficked tortoise species in the world. These tortoises are collected and smuggled into East and Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong. The Chennai airport has been the smuggling hub for this.
Between 2021 and 2022, India has seized around 5,000 Star Tortoises, while in Sri Lanka the number was at 5,487. Further the investigation also revealed that Sri Lanka was both the transit hub and a place of origin for this racket.
The drug smuggling racket is also on the rise with cases being reported from the Ramnathpuram district in Tamil Nadu. Recently three persons including a Sri Lankan refugee were arrested in Tamil Nadu. The police found 130 packets of marijuana in the deck of one of the trucks and the estimated value was around Rs 26 lakh.