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Melissa Locker
January 15, 2016

A recent flight from Dubai to Visakhapatnam had a stowaway—nearly seven pounds of smuggled gold hidden underneath a seat.

Customs officials were tipped off that there was gold hidden on a plane and found 6.8 pounds of it when they boarded the flight at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Shamshabad. It’s the fifth case of gold smuggling in the last six weeks, all using the same method of concealing gold on an international flight with multiple stopovers, according to the New Indian Express newspaper.

The way the scheme works is that one person brings the gold onto the plane, hides it under the seat and leaves it on the plane. “In flights, there would be a hollow pipe which supports the three seats. The window side of the pipe is usually open and gold biscuits are kept inside that for the next passenger to locate and retrieve,” a customs official told The New Indian Express. Another member of the smuggling team boards the plane for the next leg of the flight, picks up the gold from under the seat, and walks off with it.

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Customs officials became aware of the smuggling technique back in 2013, but it seems to have ramped up in recent weeks. In all, the officials have seized around 22 pounds of gold from planes.

According to the customs official who spoke to the New Indian Express, the smugglers like the Dubai-Hyderabad-Vizag flight because while it’s an international route, the final leg of the journey is an easy one-hour domestic leg meaning whoever picks up the gold can walk off the plane with minimal security checks.

Customs officials suspect that airport employees are involved in the scheme. “Without airport officials’ assistance it is not possible to smuggle out anything,” a customs official told the newspaper.

Still, it is a good reminder to always listen to the flight attendants when they tell you to check under the seats in front of you before you leave the plane.

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