Kathmandu, April 12
Gold smugglers seem undeterred by frequent seizure of undeclared precious yellow metal at Tribhuvan International Airport.
Despite police action, racketeers continue attempts to pass gold through the only international airport of the country. TIA police, in association with Customs Office, arrested three Chinese nationals with 3.3 kilograms of gold, concealed in rectum yesterday.
The smuggling suspects — Mad Yinhua, Ma Fuming and Zhang Zhiyang — arrived here from Kunming on a China Eastern Airlines flight. The gold is worth around Rs 14.5 million as per today’s bullion market.
Superintendent of Police Krishna Koirala said the trio were detained for investigation as they were spotted behaving suspiciously and were walking in a peculiar way during a security scanning at the arrival gate. “The Chinese nationals were quizzed, but they pleaded innocence until the X-ray machine confirmed metal in their body. Police took the help of medical persons to remove the contraband from rectal cavities of those arrested,” he said.
On April 4, police had arrested four Indian nationals with around 5.8 kilograms of gold being smuggled into Nepal via TIA from Bangkok, by evading the customs. A Chinese citizen was held with 139 grams of gold on March 31.
Police said racketeers were changing their modus operandi for gold smuggling through TIA. Concealing gold in rectum, battery boxes, laptops, baggage and inner soles of shoes are some of the ways adopted by smugglers. Smugglers also mould gold into jewellery and wear it to outsmart security and customs officials.
Statistics provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs show that 114 kilograms of undeclared gold was seized from parts of the country, including TIA, until February last year. As many as 128 persons were arrested in connection with the smuggling of the contraband in the period. Most of the smuggled gold enters Nepal from Gulf countries and Thailand through TIA, and Tatopani and Rasuwagadi-Kerung points via Tibet of China by evading customs. The government imposes a customs duty of Rs 5,200 per 10 grams of gold while selling it to authorised jewellers and dealers through the official channel of commercial banks.
Earlier, the MoHA claimed that cases of gold smuggling had gone down after the special probe panel formed to investigate the 2 March 2018 murder of Sanam Shakya and disappearance of 33 kilograms of smuggled gold, filed charge-sheet against 75 persons. Of them, 46 were arrested ans 34 of them are in jail.
After a brief lull, gold smugglers have again started cashing in on the poor security system of TIA to supply precious yellow metal to Nepal. Some migrant workers returning to Nepal are also being used as gold carriers.
A version of this article appears in print on April 13, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.