TRICHY: The CBI has busted a major smuggling racket at the Trichy international airport and
detained six customs officials and 13 passengers, including eight women, who acted as carriers. The
action came on Monday evening at the end of searches lasting more than 24 hours carried out by
the anti-corruption bureau (ACB) of CBI, madurai at the airport.
The detained customs officials were assistant commissioner M Venkatesulu, superintendents
Kalugasalamoorthy and S Ramakrishnan, inspectors S Anees Fathima and Prashant Goutam, and
Freddy Edward, MTS. All of them were booked under sections 120 – B of IPC and 7, 7A, 8 and 12 of
the Prevention of Corruption Act. The provisions include criminal conspiracy, public taking undue
advantage to influence a public servant, bribing public servant and abetment of the above. All 19
were taken to Madurai to be produced before the Additional II and Special Judge for CBI cases
there. The CBI found three bundles of cash worth Rs 9.04 lakh in a safe allotted to one of the
customs staff, Fredy Edward, which was illegally collected from passengers and meant to be shared
among the suspected six customs authorities, the officials stated. Bundles of cigarettes were also
recovered during the operation.
A CBI team headed by the superintendent of police, anti-corruption bureau comprising 15 personnel
including four inspectors carried out the operation from around 5 pm on Sunday. The CBI said the
action was based on information from reliable sources that the public servants posted at the
international airport were indulging in corrupt practices. They regularly obtained illegal gratification
from smugglers or carriers bringing trade goods from Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and other
countries for allowing them to sneak these out without paying customs duty.
On Sunday, the CBI team was ready as passengers from Singapore arrived by Air India Express at
3.30 pm. The officials waited till all the passengers came out after clearing the formalities with
immigration and customs checking. When the passengers were about to come out of the terminal
building, the officials detained around 40 of them on suspicion. All of them were frisked separately
and their statements cross-checked with the customs officials who were on duty. After around 15
hours of checking, scanning of luggage and frisking of passengers, the CBI zeroed in on 13
passengers as carriers (kuruvis). Others were allowed to go with their baggage, as most of them had
carried textile materials, sources said.
Earlier, during the surprise check, the CBI officials observed that some people waiting near the
arrival gate were handing over money to the passengers who were inside the terminal. According to
the CBI’s FIR, these passengers went back inside the airport and were seen coming out with trolleys
full of baggage. The baggage was marked ‘X’ by the officials of the customs, but all of them were not
opened and assessed.
The accused ‘kuruvis’ regularly visited Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka and were found carrying
items such as cigarette packets, gold items and alcohol bottles banned in India. The customs officials
who were on duty should have seized the said goods from these passengers. Instead, they were
allowed to take them out of the airport “by receiving an undue advantage in the form of illegal
gratification,” the CBI said.
The raid was conducted against the backdrop of the seizure of 6.15kg of gold at the airport on July
31. Three ground handling employees were arrested for helping the smugglers. Attempts to smuggle
reptiles were also revealed recently. The customs seized 12.4kg of tortoise hatchlings from a
passenger on July 26. In another incident, snakes, scorpions, tortoises and gecks were seized from
two passengers who arrived here from Kuala Lumpur on August 4.