World Bulletin / News Desk
Gold smugglers are resorting to increasingly desperate measures to get the metal past customs, Indian officials say, after nearly a dozen people were caught with bullion stashed in their rectums.
Customs officials acting on a tip-off Sunday detained a group of crafty gold mules as their plane from Sri Lanka touched down in the southern city of Madurai.
"Eleven passengers had concealed some 32 to 50 grams (1.1 to 1.8 ounces) each in their rectums. Another 17 had hidden gold in their luggage," a senior Directorate of Revenue Intelligence official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The value of the haul was more than 30 million rupees ($500,000), he added.
Demand for gold peaks in the final months of the year as the wedding season gets going and preparations are made for the major Hindu festivals of Diwali and Dussehra.
There has been a rise in smuggling since duties on gold were raised in 2013. But secreting the valuable metal inside a body cavity has really only caught on recently, officials say.
"It seems to be a new trend that has caught up in the last 7-8 months. Since the amounts of gold are not huge, it is easier for them to escape detection," the customs official said.
The bars are usually wrapped in plastic and shaped like a battery to ease insertion and removal, he said.
"They stuff it in on boarding, and then take it out so it is not uncomfortable during the flight. Just before disembarking the plane, they put it back there again," he said.
"All this is done meticulously so as not to cause any bruise or injury."
The World Gold Council estimates smuggling networks imported up to 120 tonnes of gold into India in 2016.
Bangladesh has emerged as a major route for smuggled bullion into neighbouring India, with authorities seizing a record 1.5 tonnes at airports in the past three years and arresting more than 100 people.
Smugglers have become more creative as their schemes have been uncovered, with authorities discovering gold bars sewn in clothes or hidden inside traffickers' bodies and some using wheelchairs to conceal their illicit cargo.
Israeli army says the attack came after rocket fire from Gaza
Trump's special representative has blamed Hamas for causing "misery" in Gaza
It is still a wide-open race to succeed President Enrique Pena Nieto, who is deeply unpopular heading into the final stretch of his six-year term in a Mexico beset by endless corruption scandals and record levels of violent crime.
His comments came as he faces criticism from survivors of the attack over his ties to the powerful National Rifle Association, and after several thousand rallied in Florida to demand urgent action on gun control.
Temer came to the city to meet Governor Luiz Fernando Pezao, several ministers and General Walter Souza Braga Netto, who will lead the operation and who was in charge of coordinating security when the city hosted the 2016 Olympic Games.
Muslims have suffered the most by far from ISIL’s terrorist attacks, Iraqi premier tells Munich Security Conference
Israel struck six targets affiliated with Hamas's armed wing in Gaza Strip, Palestinian security source says
Washington concurs with Ankara on need for locals taking control of liberated areas, says US defense secretary
Army uses live ammunition, rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Palestinians in West Bank, Gaza
"Deal of the Century" refers to a back-channel U.S. plan to settle the Palestine-Israel dispute
Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete and Alejandro Murat, governor of the state of Oaxaca, were on their way to survey the scene of the destruction left by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake when the accident occurred, the interior ministry tweeted.
The arrival of Trump and his wife Melania came at the end of a difficult day for the families of those killed in Wednesday's rampage at a high school in Parkland, Florida, who learned that the carnage could perhaps have been averted.
Trump to consider report suggesting high tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum imports