Over Rs.300 million worth of gold and foreign currency have been seized by Sri Lanka Customs at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) during the first six months of 2015.
Customs Spokesman Leslie Gamini said they had thwarted 33 gold smuggling attempts at BIA during the past six months and arrested 40 suspects. On 20 of these occasions, people were attempting to smuggle gold into the country. Gold weighing 18.8 kilograms valued at Rs.93.5 million were seized during these incidents. Fines amounting to Rs.1 million were imposed on the suspects, it was further disclosed.
Customs also foiled 13 attempts by people trying to smuggle gold out of the country, arresting 20 suspects. Gold weighing 13.5kg with a total value of Rs.61 million were seized on these occasions and nearly Rs.1 million in fines imposed on the suspects.
Accordingly, the seized gold from the 33 smuggling attempts amounts to Rs.154.6 million.
Customs officials also arrested 21 passengers who were attempting to smuggle out foreign currency. The seized foreign currency comes to a combined total of Rs.152 million, the Customs spokesman further disclosed. Fines totaling Rs.4 million were imposed on the passengers, he added.
The combined haul of gold and foreign currency seized from January 01 to June 30 amounts to Rs.306.6 million.
During the recent past, smuggling of gold and foreign currency has become the two main rackets carried out using airline passengers. However, Gamini reiterated that most of the real ‘masterminds’ of the gold and foreign currency smuggling rackets were operating from overseas. “Those who have been caught are mostly just carriers working for someone else,” he stressed.