Kathmandu . The Metropolitan Police Airport Security Office (MPASO) Thursday arrested five individuals, including three cleaning staffers, for ‘aiding’ the smuggling of 2.332 kg gold from the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).
According to the MPASO, seizure of the gold from two cleaning staffers led to the arrests of three others.
The gold was seized from 28-year-old Bhim Kumar Mabo of Panchthar district and 27-year-old Suman Tamang of Nuwakot district during the mandatory security check before leaving through the iron gate of the TIA. Mabo and Tamang are cleaning staffers for Sungava Suppliers and Sarsafai Pvt. Ltd. at the TIA.
Each of the two were found hiding 10 biscuits of gold weighing a total of 1,166 grams by wrapping it with tapes and hiding it in their money purse.
The TIA and the company have a cleaning contract inside the airport, officials informed. According to the MPASO, Mabo and Tamang were deployed to clean a flight of Himalaya Airlines which had arrived from Dubai.
Mabo had taken the gold biscuits from wastes inside the flight’s toilet and gave half of that to Tamang.
“It is certain that someone had left the gold in the flight and it is being investigated. Meanwhile, Mabo and Tamang were also not alone,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Bhim Prasad Dhakal, chief at MPASO.
After arresting Mabo and Tamang while they were trying to leave the TIA, police started their preliminary interrogation and found involvement of three more individuals in the smuggling.
“Hem Bahadur Thapa, 49, of Dolakha; Rajesh Rai, 28, of Udayapur; and Tarakanta Chaudhary, 36, of Saptari, were arrested soon after the duo was nabbed,” said SSP Dhakal. Thapa, a taxi driver, and Rai were prepared to help the duo once they came out of the airport.
Chaudhary was the supervisor for the cleaning company and the one who had deployed Mabo and Tamang for cleaning the plane of Himalaya Airlines. The involvement of airport employees in smuggling of gold is not new as the 33.5kg gold smuggling case had also revealed similar complicity.
A few months ago, two airline employees were also arrested for smuggling money in a flight from Bhadrapur to Kathmandu.
“Use of airport employees for smuggling might have been happened earlier but nowadays every employee, including police and those working in customs and immigration, are checked thoroughly while entering and leaving the airport premises.
If anyone tries to abet the smugglers, they will be arrested,” said Mahesh Bhattarai, chief at the TIA Customs Office. Bhattarai also informed that identifying and plugging security loopholes through coordination with other authorities was taking place continuously at the TIA.
Mabo, Tamang and three others alongside the seized gold biscuits have also been sent to the TIA Customs Office for further investigation and legal process.