RAWALPINDI: A passenger allegedly trying to smuggle currency abroad was apprehended by Customs staff while boarding a Dubai-bound flight at Islamabad International Airport on Saturday.

The passenger was a frequent traveller allegedly involved in smuggling gold and mobile phones.

Additional Collector Customs Nisar Ahmed said the passenger, Majid Khan, was offloaded from Pakistan International Airlines flight PK-233 after Customs authorities learned that he was carrying a large sum of foreign currency without permission from the government.

Mr Khan was offloaded by Customs staffer Ijaz Ahmed, who also faced some resistance from security staff when he was boarding the plane to remove the passenger. After the intervention of the additional collector, the passenger was removed from the plane with his hand luggage and manually searched.

According to Customs authorities, UAE Dirhams 109,100, Qatari Riyals 2,000 and Pakistani currency was found in his luggage during the search. The authorities said that any individual travelling abroad can take up to $10,000.

The passenger was taken into custody by Customs staff and case has been registered against said.

Mr Ahmed said the passenger was a frequent traveller between Islamabad and Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Qatar, but he also sometimes landed in Peshawar or at other airports with gold and mobile phones.

“He seems to be carrier but Customs authorities have been trying to trace the gangs for whom he has been working,” he said, adding that the investigators sought his mobile phone data to trace others involved in smuggling gold and currency.

He claimed the passenger would change his station to avoid Customs and other airport authorities. According to an initial investigation by Customs, the man had travelled abroad 50 times.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2019