Customs officials hope further interrogation of the 31-year-old female accountant arrested for trying to smuggle in gold biscuits worth Rs.50 million, would lead them to the masterminds of what is believed to be an extensive gold smuggling racket.

The suspect, a resident of Wattala, was arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) early Wednesday (June 10) morning while trying to smuggle in 100 gold biscuits in two packages that were concealed in five layers of underwear that she was wearing. The suspect had arrived on a flight from Dubai. She has been placed in remand custody till June 22.

According to Customs Spokesman Leslie Gamini, the suspect’s passport confirms that she has traveled overseas 34 times since November, last year. These include trips to Dubai and Singapore. “While we cannot say she was carrying gold on all the occasions she returned from these trips, we hope to question her further on this and other matters,” he told The Nation.

He acknowledged there had been a spate of incidents in the recent past where gold smugglers were arrested at the airport. Gamini though noted these weren’t the kingpins, adding “All those who are caught are simply carriers for the real masterminds who operate behind the scenes”.

However, the extent of the gold discovered on the latest suspect and her frequent trips overseas may provide significant clues to Customs officials to identify the masterminds of the operation and as such, she is due to be interrogated extensively for information.

The move to transfer the investigation to the Customs’ Central Investigation Division from officials who were initially handling the probe has however caused controversy. When queried, the Customs spokesman said this was due to a decision taken earlier to hand over any investigations related to detections amounting to over Rs.10 million to the Central Investigation Division. “There is nothing unusual in that and there is no interference in the investigation,” he claimed.