Gold dentures and chain worth Dh20,000 seized from Dubai flight passenger's mouth

Glinting grin gave away contraband

A suspected smuggler has been caught with 95 grams of gold hidden in his mouth, in the form of dentures and a chain.

Customs officers in Delhi plucked them from his mouth shortly after he arrived from Dubai.

The man was one of two Uzbekistan nationals detained on August 28 by the Customs Air Intelligence Unit at Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Officers felt they looked suspicious as the men entered the ‘nothing to declare’ green channel in arrivals.

They carried out an oral cavity search and found the gold worth around $5,500 (Dh20,200).

On the same night, a second flight from Dubai carried two other passengers allegedly hoping to dodge customs charges and taxes on gold as they entered India through Delhi's international airport.

The customs department profiles passengers coming into the country through its Advance Passenger Information System (Apis) to identify trafficking and terrorism threats.

Officials noticed two Indian passengers of interest on FlyDubai flight FZ431 arriving in Delhi from Dubai on August 28.

The two men, from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, had their luggage checked as they entered via the airport’s green channel in arrivals.

An x-ray found nothing suspicious. But further examination by officers revealed a brown paste containing 560g of gold worth $32,200 (Dh118,200) concealed inside one of the passengers' shirt collar and cuffs. The men were then arrested.

On September 9, two men were stopped as they entered the airport as intelligence alerted officers to hidden gold in their underwear. Both passengers were arrested for trying to smuggle 1,369g of gold hidden in brown paste worth around $79,000 (Dh290,000).

Dubai to India is a common route for gold smugglers because of the booming UAE market for precious metals.

They are often hoping to avoid India’s luxury tax, which must be paid on arrival and is often more than 10 per cent of the total value of the gold.

India’s Apis system was extended across the country by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2011, after successful trials by customs authorities at six airports — Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Delhi and Mumbai.

The system profiles passengers travelling to India from high-risk areas to collate a database for risk assessment purposes. It aims to identify those carrying fake currency, sensitive items or under-invoiced goods for duty-evasion.

Most brazen smuggling attempts - in pictures

Updated: September 13th 2021, 9:43 AM
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