Thiruvananthapuram: A series of reports of gold smuggling into India, mainly carried out by rackets operated by Keralites, has one common feature: A good number of the carriers of smuggled gold into India are women from northern Kerala. In one case, a Keralite woman and her two daughters are suspected to be part of a smuggling ring.

Over half a dozen women have already been caught smuggling gold into the country, including an air hostess and a former assistant manager of a bank. Police suspect that more and more women are taking the plunge into the smuggling business for to make quick money.

Gold smuggling turned into an attractive proposition following the federal government’s decision to hike the import duty on gold to 10 per cent, with the aim of containing the government’s current account deficit. In the past few weeks alone, over 60kg of gold is estimated to have been taken into custody by the department of revenue intelligence officials from the three airports in the state during smuggling attempts.

Two smuggler women who have attracted the most attention are former airhostess Hiramosa Sebastian from Wayanad, and a former assistant bank manager who also handled an insurance business, Rahila Cherai from Thalassery.

DRI officials seized 6kg of gold from the duo on Friday at the Karipur airport in Kozhikode. The two had attempted to hide gold bars tied in a cloth around their waists inside their jeans, but their plan failed to fool the DRI officials.

Officials believe the duo were in the racket to make a quick buck, and that they may be part of a larger smuggling racket, and were operating as carriers. It is estimated that Sebastian and Cherai may have smuggled gold worth Rs110 million (Dh6.3 million) into the country over the past three months.

The series of large-scale gold smuggling incidents began unravelling following the arrest of a person named Faiz at the Nedumbassery airport in mid-September. Officials are investigating whether Sebastian and Cherai also have links to Faiz.

More women are suspected to be associated with different gold smuggling rackets, and officials are also investigating into the suspicion that a woman and her two daughters were part of the smuggling racket.

Frequent seizures of gold at the airports in Kerala have prompted some smugglers to adopt innovative methods in their smuggling attempts. On Saturday, a man was held at the Karipur airport with three tumblers and four spoons made of gold and coated with silver.

According to officials, the man, identified as Mohammad Navas from Puthukkode, was carrying 2kg of gold disguised as silver utensils. Many unskilled persons working in the Gulf are suspected to be easy victims for smuggling rackets and offer their services to smuggle gold, risking their future.