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25kg gold seized from man ‘in wheelchair’

DHAKA

Authorities at Bangladesh’s main international airport on Sunday arrested a man accused of posing as a wheelchair user in an elaborate plot to smuggle 25 kilograms of gold past customs.

The bullion bust, worth an estimated $1.5 million, was the largest this year by airport officials in Bangladesh, which have been battling a record surge in gold smuggling in recent years.

Customs officials became suspicious when they noticed Jamil Akhter, who was using a wheelchair as he cleared immigration, had travelled overseas 13 times this year.

“Our team challenged him and found 250 pieces of gold weighing 25kg beneath his undergarments taped to his thighs,” airport customs spokesman Ahsanul Kabir said.

“The market price of the recovered gold is $1.5 million. It is the single biggest haul this year.”

Officials earlier on Sunday also found six more kilos of gold taped inside the toilet of a passenger aircraft flown from Singapore, he added.

It is not the first time a gold smuggler has opted for a wheelchair ruse to sneak past customs.

Last year a separate man was busted pulling the same trick in a failed attempt to get 23kg of gold into Bangladesh at the same airport.

Bangladesh has emerged as a major route for smuggled bullion into neighbouring India, the world’s largest consumer of gold.

Authorities have seized a record 1.5 tonnes of gold from Bangladeshi airports in the past three years, most coming from countries in the Gulf.

Agencies