On 25.01.1989, I was on duty at the Sahar Intelligence 0fficer of Air Intelligence Unit of Airport. After resumption I verified the arrival and departure schedules of all the flights. Consolidated statement of schedule was prepared and submitted to customs by Airport Authority of India. I had also developed an habit of keeping a track of the delayed arrivals. It was Syrian Airways flight No. RB-503 from Abudhabi and Air India flight No. AI-162 from Paris-Frankfurt via Delhi, that day. During the relevant period, my sources gave me input that due to intensified rummaging of the Aircrafts, screening and checking of baggage and cargo arriving from Gulf Ports, the smugglers had switched over to European Ports. The input has logic, too. Based, on the intelligence, I started to focus of flights coming from European sector, too, which were not attending earlier. I took my team of Officers and planned the rummaging in systematic manner. Then we started to rummage the Air India 'Combi! Aircraft which had arrived from Paris and Frankfurt, AI 162.
During the rummage of the upper deck toilet, I could locate one blue colour cloth bundle inside a peculiar cavity below dust bin. I immediately lifted to check wt. It was very heavy. I could smell that it as gold concealment. When opened cloth packet, it was cloth belt which was used for carrying the gold bars. I called the team. Immediately, I also checked for similar cavity in the opposite toilet. Alas, two more heavy cloth belts were recovered. The detection resulted in seizure of 180 gold bars of 10 tolas each. Gold bars, weighing in total 20988 grams and valued Rs.67,16,160/- were recovered and seized.
This case was significant as was the first haul from an Air India 'Combi' series of aircrafts. No one had idea of rummaging points, in newly designed aircraft. Also, seizure of gold from the flights of European sector was unpresidential. After, this seizure, few more cases / seizures from the Paris Frankfurt sectors were effected at Mumbai Airport. The Collector, then appreciated " This excellent seizure not only shows the Shri PMB Nair's ability to gather intelligence and sincere hard work but also his unerring judgment, determination and persuasion"
I was concentrating more on the Cargo side as the smuggling through baggage and aircraft had considerably reduce during the period. Since the operators are known for changing the modus operendi and area of operation very' often. I decided to study the cargo documents and physically verify the packages arriving from non Sensitive ports too. I started to visit ACC, airline offices, tarmacs on regular basis. I was on night duty as Intelligence Officer On l1.01.1989 which started from 10.00 pm till 8.00 am. As such, in addition to regular surveillance on the passengers, I checked the Cargo arrived by British Airways, Swiss Air and other flights arriving from Far East flights and also from Dubai by Emirates. Cathy Pacific Airlines flights were counted as sensetive flights with regarding gold smuggling. I checked the documents relating to cargo the In the process arriving from Kuwait by Kuwait Airways flight No.KU-301. I was stuck to find some suspicious entry in the cargo declaration. I observed certain abnormalities in Airway Bi11 No. 220-23244896. It was, one piece of unaccompanied baggage weighing 28 Kg.. As per declaration, it contained personal effects and was shipped by one Mr. John Naronha giving only Kuwait Telephone No. Though the consignee's address appeared to be genuine, I also observed that Ticket and flight details given without Passport Number, proper Kuwait address. Having suspected the consignment, I started to locate the said package from the heaps of packages stacked in the cargo pallets. It was a suitcase. I just lifted the suitcase. Alas.... ! The Suitcase was heavy towards one Corner. I was feeling excited. The suitcase was detained, with instruction not to disclose about it to the passenger. The airlines were instructed to inform AIU Office, as and when the claimant comes to their Office. On verification, the consignee's address, was found fictitious. Later on, the examination of the said suitcase resulted in the recovery and seizure of 100 gold bars of 10 tolas each valued Rs.37,89,500/- and blankets and tissue paper boxes valued Rs.840/-