DRI arrests senior Air India Express crew member in gold smuggling probe

Kannur (Kerala), May 31 (PTI) Initiating a comprehensive investigation into the gold smuggling incident involving a female crew member of an Air India Express flight, DRI sleuths on Friday arrested a senior male crew member of the same airline on Friday for his alleged “significant role” in recruiting her into the smuggling ring.

According to a source, Suhail Thanalot, a senior crew member of AIE and a native of Thillenkeri in Kannur district, was apprehended following intelligence and evidence compiled by the DRI regarding his involvement in the gold smuggling incident.

He was apprehended three days after Surabhi Khatun, who belongs to Kolkata, was arrested by the DRI for allegedly attempting to smuggle nearly one kilogram of gold from Muscat to Kannur by concealing it in her rectum. She was remanded in judicial custody on Thursday.

According to the source, Suhail, who has around 10 years’ experience as cabin crew, is suspected of playing a significant role in recruiting Khatun into the smuggling syndicate.

He will be produced before the judicial magistrate with a request for remand, the source said.

With regard to Khatun’s arrest, Air India Express had confirmed that Customs was investigating an incident involving their employee.

“We confirm that an incident is being investigated by the Customs authorities at CNN (Kannur) airport involving an employee. We are cooperating with the investigative authorities,” a spokesperson of the airline had said.

The airline, however, has not reacted to the arrest of Suhail.

Based on specific intelligence by DRI Cochin, officers of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI – Kannur) intercepted Khatun.

Her personal search had resulted in the recovery of 960 grams of smuggled gold in compound form that was concealed in her rectum.

This is the first case in India where an airline crew member has been apprehended for smuggling gold by concealing it in the rectum, the source had claimed.