Central Excise officers arrested three members of an international gold smuggling racket from near Ghosh Pukur toll plaza in Siliguri in the early hours of Monday. Around 35 gold bars weighing one kg each was confiscated.
Acting on a tip off, the Central Excise (CE) officers stopped a car near the toll plaza in which the three persons were travelling. Policemen from the local police station also assisted the CE team. The cops caught the three as soon as they got out of the car and the CE team searched the car.
Two packets were found under the driver’s seat, one containing 17 gold bars and the other having 18. The cost of the seized gold is around Rs 10.35 crore in the Indian market. A Nepal national Pramod Debkota, a resident of Kharibari Bikash Sharma and Anil Yadav, the driver were arrested. Preliminary investigation revealed that the consignment was coming from China via Nepal-Bhutan border and the accused were going to hand it over to its actual “receiver” in Kolkata.
The racket had been operational in the state for the past few months. The accused had slipped away several times when raids were undertaken to arrest them. Though the arrest is just the tip of the ice-berg, investigating officers are considering it a major breakthrough as the trio can provide details of the kingpin.
Investigating officers further learnt that the racket had spread to different cities and there are different routes used by racketeers to smuggle gold bars to the “receivers” in different parts of the country.
Sources said that officers from other parts of the country will also be interrogating the trio. Officers believe that Debkota can provide vital information about the smuggling routes.