Senior Kerala IT official suspected kingpin behind gold smuggling through diplomatic channel

South India

A senior official of Kerala IT department is suspected to be the kingpin behind the smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels.

The name of Swapna Suresh, an operations manager in one of the wings of the IT department, emerged in the investigation conducted by the Customs into the seizure of 30 kilograms of gold from a diplomatic baggage addressed to the United Arab Emirates consulate office in Thiruvanathapuram on Sunday, July 5.

Reports said that Swapna, who had worked briefly in the consulate as executive secretary, had smuggled the gold with the help of former consulate Public Relations Officer Sarith. The two were terminated from the consulate service following some irregularities.

Sarith, who used to pick up diplomatic baggage from the airport, used his former position to smuggle gold with the help of a forged identity card. While Sarith has been arrested, the search is on for Swapna, who has gone into hiding following the seizure of the gold.

The IT department has terminated service of Swapna Suresh. Sarith has reportedly admitted that they had smuggled gold through the diplomatic channel at least eight times before. They could continue the smuggling as the diplomatic bags are normally are not subjected to customs scrutiny.

However, the Customs officials checked the baggage that arrived at the Thiruvananthapuram airport on a chartered flight last week based on tips they received and stumbled upon the gold, which is estimated to be worth Rs.15 crores.

As per sources, the cart in which the gold was being transported had iron pipes and an air compressor along with the gold cylinders. Since the bag was diplomatic, officials could not open it though they had information about the smuggled gold. Therefore, they held on to the baggage for two days to get necessary permissions from authorities.

Image Credit: Mathrubhumi

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