Swapna Suresh
File photo of Swapna Suresh, former consulate employee and state IT department consultant who has emerged as the key suspect in the gold smuggling case, in Kerala. Image Credit: ANI

Bengaluru: Swapna Suresh, the woman at the centre of the sensational gold smuggling racket in Kerala, has finally been nabbed… seven days after she went on the run.

Information coming out say that she and an accomplice were arrested by NIA in Bengaluru and that she will be brought back to Kerala tomorrow. The arrest comes just a day after NIA, which is the key Indian agency, handling terror related crimes was appointed on Friday to oversee the case.

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Swapna is an accused in a case involving the smuggling of 30 kilograms of gold - worth Dh6 million plus - from the UAE. The package was picked up at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport in a package meant for the UAE Consul-General.

The arrest will also raise questions about how Swapna, who was born in Abu Dhabi and also worked here with an international airline, managed to evade Kerala police and managed to reach all the way to Bengaluru - in the neighbouring state of Kerala - by road. Especially, when there are extensive restrictions on movements across large parts of Kerala to bring down spread of the COVID-19.

According to a senior Kerala Police official, “It will be an embarrassment for the state police that she managed to cover more than 700 kilometres between Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru despite all the lockdown restrictions. And despite her face being part of blanket media coverage through these days.”

The case so far

On July 5, around 30kg gold worth Rs15 crore (Rs150 million), concealed in diplomatic consignment, was seized at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport by the Customs Department.

Sarit Kumar, who had previously worked as a public relations officer (PRO) in UAE Consulate-General's office in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested on Monday and remanded for 14 days.

On Friday, federal investigative agencies submitted before a court that Swapna was indeed a link in a long chain of smuggling-related activities that have undermined the authority of the Indian state.

This is where Swapna’s description of herself as a working girl - sent in a voice clip to media organisations on Thursday - starts to look a bit thin.