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KATHMANDU: The discovery of a gold smuggling operation in Nepal has been made following the arrest of Rewant Khadka, a customs officer, by the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) team of Nepal Police.
The CIB spokesperson, SP Sanjay Singh Thapa, revealed that three additional individuals involved in the incident were also apprehended.
Khadka, a junior officer who joined the civil service after passing the Public Service Commission four years ago, came under scrutiny when the customs office seized 730 pieces of modern cigarettes (vape) on December 25, 2022. Strangely, the vapes had been substituted with an undisclosed item.
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that the vapes had been tampered with, concealing hidden gold within them, and Khadka was implicated in the substitution.
The police subsequently uncovered a connection to gold smuggling operations reaching into India. Notably, the Chinese national responsible for bringing the gold to the vapes managed to evade capture.
The missing gold is estimated to have a value of 70 million rupees. This incident has shed light on the prevalence of gold smuggling into Nepal from abroad, often facilitated by complicit airport staff. Despite the government’s strict stance against illegal gold imports, smugglers continue to exploit airports as conduits for their illicit activities.
The revelations of this case have prompted heightened vigilance among the police, who have been working closely with India’s Directorate of Revenue Investigation (DRI).
In a previous operation dubbed ‘Operation Golden Dawn,’ the DRI seized 101 kg of gold and subsequently uncovered a smuggling network involving seven Sudanese nationals and three Indian nationals, who were found to have connections with Nepal.