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11 detained in connection with Paro gold smuggling case

Includes two women who funded the smugglers

Rinzin Wangchuk

Police in Paro detained 11 people in connection with the Nu 38 million worth recent gold smuggling case at the Paro International Airport.

Kuensel sources say that of the 11 people detained, two businesswomen in mid-thirties were arrested on April 9 following a confession by one of the suspects that the women funded the trip to bring in the gold from Bangkok, Thailand. The businesswomen are believed to be among the 11 women, called “loan sharks” in Thimphu.

Police also detained two security personnel and a loader at the airport for allegedly facilitating the smugglers to carry money beyond permissible amounts out of the country and attempting to bring in gold. They would be charged for aiding and abetting the crime, according to police.

The gold smuggling racket was busted after three men were caught at the arrival parking lot outside the airport on March 15.  Police, following a tip-off, intercepted them while they were returning from Bangkok. Two drivers who came to pick them were also detained.

One of the prime suspects was carrying 7.190 kg gold in his hand luggage which was not scanned at the custom’s X-Rayfacility. Sources from police said that the prime suspect, a 37-yar-old man from Dagana took two men along with him to Bangkok to train them in gold smuggling and as carriers.

The training, according to the sources, was on how to carry out a huge amount of money, showing the place to buy gold and smuggle them into the country. The person is expected to be able to run the errands on his own after two attachments to  Bangkok.

The prime suspect is believed to have travelled outside the country around four times to smuggle in gold. It was supposed to be his last trip since he had already trained the duo from Lhuentse.

Both women were detained after police found that they have transacted huge amounts of money through their mobile phones. The other phones are being examined as well.

Police are also on the lookout for a financier in connection with the present gold case.

The price of 10 grams of gold is Nu 54,718 as of yesterday, according to rates available on the website of the Royal Monetary Authority. The rate for 10 gram gold in Thailand is 21,971.4 Baht.

According to Customs Rules and Regulations of Bhutan 2017, gold and silver in the form of coins, bars or bullion including jewellery in excess of the quantity mentioned -50 grams, require a permit from the relevant agency and is subject to levy of customs duty. Any import or export of gold or silver coins, bars or bullion, are allowed only with the prior approval of the Royal Monetary Authority.

The recent gold case is the first case in three years. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) prosecuted about 60 people in connection with the illegal possession and smuggling of more than 205 kg of gold in different cases at the Paro dzongkhag court in 2020.