Gold smugglers undeterred by police crackdown

Kathmandu, July 25

Though police have been arresting gold smugglers almost every day, racketeers continue to attempt to pass the precious yellow metal through Tribhuvan International Airport.

They seem to be undeterred by police action. Security personnel arrested two Thai women with 3.680 kilograms of undeclared gold at TIA yesterday.

Juthamas Jakpariniyakul (passport number AB1373798) and Preyanun Dechacheewac Hikchn (passport number AB1299503) had arrived here on a Thai Air flight. Police said the duo had tried to smuggle the gold in the form of bracelets, belt buckles, rosary, keys, coins and watch dials plated with copper to outsmart the cops. The consignment is worth around Rs 17.8 million as per today’s bullion price.

On Monday, five Indian nationals were arrested with three kilograms of gold. The Indians, who came to Kathmandu from Bangkok, had the gold hidden inside the wheels of the suitcases they were carrying. Similarly, police held two Indian nationals with 2.670 kg gold concealed in their rectum on July 21. In yet another incident, police arrested three Indian nationals with 559.60 grams of gold from TIA. The trio were found putting two small gold biscuits each in their mouth to outsmart the security agency.

Cases of gold smuggling had gone down after the special probe panel led by Ishwar Prasad Paudel, joint secretary at the Ministry of Home Affairs, formed to investigate the March 2 murder of Sanam Shakya and disappearance of 33 kilograms of smuggled gold, arrested over 33 alleged smugglers and filed case against 75 persons at Morang District Court in May. After a brief lull, gold smugglers have again started cashing in on the poor security system.

Police officials said gold smugglers were on the prowl again and said special vigilance had been maintained at TIA. Nepal Police has seized at least 150 kg gold in the past 11 months. Most of the smuggled gold enters Nepal from Gulf countries and Thailand through the TIA, and Tatopani and Rasuwagadhi-Kerung points via Tibet of China.

Some migrant workers returning to Nepal are being used as gold carriers, who are promised ‘good’ wage. The migrant workers are paid by racketeers from the Gulf via wire after the gold consignment is received by the concerned persons in Nepal. As racketeers make a profit of around Rs 7,000 per tola gold, they have been luring gullible migrant workers into carrying the precious metal in small consignments, officials said.