Smugglers are now using a new technique to smuggle gold into the country in a bid to evade detection of the precious metal amid Covid-19 restrictions on international travel.
Smugglers are smuggling gold in a paste form as gold paste is difficult to trace by using handheld detectors and scanners, intelligence sources said.
The technique came to light after customs officials arrested a smuggler named Anwar Hossain with 1.58kg gold in past form at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka on Saturday night.
The gold smuggling in form of gold paste has increased around the world over the past few months as it is difficult to detect gold paste through metal detectors or x-ray.
Sources said smugglers melt gold and add impurities. Later, a paste is formed which can be easily smuggled with the least risk. Once the gold is smuggled, the paste is converted into powder and gold is extracted using a chemical.
Sanuwarul Kabir, deputy commissioner of Dhaka Customs House, told the Daily Sun that Anwar reached Dhaka airport by a flight (EK-584) of Emirates Airlines from Dubai around 11:30pm.
When Anwar was crossing the boarding bridge of the airport, members of the Preventive Team of the Customs House challenged him on his suspicious movement.
The customs official said, “After doing x-ray of his abdomen we have seen something in his rectum. At one stage, 9 small packets were taken out from his rectum. We found 1022 gram of gold paste on those small packets.”
He said this kind of gold paste seizure is new in the country. It is difficult to trace if gold is in powder or paste form. Most of the time, this kind of gold paste was not traced in the archway.
From time to time, the customs recover smuggled gold and arrest some people, but real smugglers always remain untraced.
Investigation officers said the smuggled gold reached the destination by changing 8 to 10 hands.
As a result, most of the carriers do not know details of the gold except a little information about the person who has contracted with him and to whom he is to be reached.
Sanuwarul Kabir said, “On September 22 we arrested a man at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport for allegedly attempting to smuggle 25 gold bars.”
“Our officials found the gold bars weighing 2.99kg hidden in the sleeves of his jacket. The estimated market value of the seized gold is Tk 2 crore.”
According to intelligence sources, international gold smugglers are using Bangladesh as a safe route due to geographical location and security weakness.
Gold is smuggled into Bangladesh from Singapore, Malaysia and different countries of the Middle East, including Dubai and Qatar, through airports and land ports.
Sources said the volume of smuggled gold is more than that seized by enforcers or customs officials. Smugglers are being involved in smuggling gold due to huge profits.
It is alleged that a number of CAAB employees responsible for airport security are involved in illegal gold smuggling. Some of them were arrested on different occasions.
These CAAB employees - mostly cleaners, conveyer belt operators and security guards - are known as carriers in the smuggling racket.
They have links with high officials for smuggling of contraband items, sources at the airport said.