Two burqa-clad women was caught by Indian customs officials at Cochin International Airport with 20 kg (44 lbs) of gold bars strapped to their bodies. The two women, in their mid-20s, had jackets specially-made to hold the gold strapped to their bodies under their burqas. This is the largest gold seizure in recent years at any Indian airport, according to authorities. This seizure almost matched the total amount of gold seized at Cochin International Airport in the first six months of 2013 (23 kg).
The two women were working for a gold smuggling operation based in Kerala. The haul had a street value of Rs 5.8 crore, (Rs 58 million = $939,000 USD). Officials said that if the women had gotten away with avoiding the customs fees, their profit would have been a minimum of Rs 60 lakh (Rs 6 million = $97,000 USD. Customs officials were able to stop this massive smuggling attempt due to a tip from an informant.
India has raised import taxes on gold from 1% two years ago to 10% at present. The government announced Tuesday that the import tax on gold jewelry had been raised from 10% to 15%. India is the #1 gold importer in the world, where the metal plays a very important part as wedding and festival gifts. Additionally, most rural citizens in this nation of 1.2 billion people have no access to a bank, and use gold jewelry and bars to store their savings.