HYDERABAD • A man who was trying to smuggle 20 gold bars weighing a total of 2kg into the Indian city of Hyderabad hid more than half of them in his rectum.
But his ruse failed when hawk- eyed airport officers intercepted him when he landed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Shamshabad on Sunday.
The 36-year-old man, said to be from Tamil Nadu state, arrived aboard a Tigerair flight from Singapore at about 1am on Sunday, Indian media reports said yesterday.
Officers of the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) had prior information about the passenger and detained him on arrival, the New Indian Express reported.
The 20 gold bars were worth 5.91 million rupees (S$125,500), according to an AIU official.
Airport Customs officers found LED lamps in the man's luggage and then discovered eight gold bars cleverly concealed inside the back covers of the lamps, the Times of India reported.
When he proved reluctant to give up the rest of the goods, Customs officers put him through a metal detector, which revealed another 12 bars hidden in his rectum.
The man has been detained for questioning.
Hiding gold bars in one's body cavities is considered to be a typical modus operandi of smugglers from India, the world's largest consumer of the precious metal.
This form of smuggling, called body packing or body stuffing, is often employed by syndicates to deliver contraband across international borders.
Customs officials in India are trained to spot passengers walking with discomfort at Indian airports as potential gold smugglers, said the Times of India.
Gold sold in India costs a lot more than that in Singapore or Dubai, which is why smugglers often devise new ways to get the commodity into the country, where they can turn a large profit from its resale.
"A smuggler bringing gold pieces concealed in his rectum is often an expert. That is because not anyone can move with ease when gold pieces are in the rear," the Times of India quoted a Directorate of Revenue Intelligence officer as saying.
"We often spot the discomfort of some during passenger profiling and nab them. Gold concealed in their body is detected by door frame metal detectors or, if needed, body scans," he added.
An experienced smuggler claimed that 800g is the maximum that one can carry in the rectum, the newspaper said. "We practise to carry the gold and walk and sit normally to avoid Customs officials. Food or water is a strict no during assignments. There are a few exercises we do that make work easier and help us carry more gold," said the man, who said he gets up to 50,000 rupees per kg of gold smuggled.