India: 56 Sri Lankans Apprehended for Gold Smuggling

The air intelligence unit of Cochin International Airport dismantled a gold smuggling ring on Sunday, the Times of India reports. Two groups of Sri Lankans were apprehended at the airport in the southwestern border city of Kochi trafficking nearly US$500,000 worth of gold ornaments.

Authorities apprehended the first group of 42 Sri Lankans with 10 kilograms of gold on Sunday morning, followed by another 14 Sri Lankans with almost 2 kilograms of gold later that evening. Both groups traveled from Sri Lanka, and the majority of the group had reportedly made the trip several times since September. Of the 56 suspects, 29 were women.

Authorities were alerted to the alleged smugglers by a tip off. Kuwait News Agency reports that the arrests confirm a gold smuggling racket based in the Sri Lankan city of Colombo and the Indian cities of Kochi and Chennai.

The suspects reportedly hid the gold in undergarments and under large shirt collars.

Indian law allows bail only if suspects smuggle less than one kilogram of gold, which intelligence officials said explained the large number of suspects.

According to the Times of India, the smuggling ring was long suspected, however the involvement of Sri Lankans was not. Customs commissioner K N Raghavan said that Indian authorities will contact the Sri Lankan embassy soon regarding the alleged smugglers.