Kozhikode: Four Customs officials at Karipur international airport, including a superintendent, were suspended by the department on Wednesday for allegedly assisting a syndicate to smuggle a huge volume of foreign brand cigarettes, official sources said here.
Officials said Customs (Preventive) Commissioner Sumit Kumar issued the suspension order a day after sleuths from the CBI, Customs and Department of Revenue Intelligence, in a joint operation, busted the syndicate seizing a huge volume of foreign brand cigarettes while it was being smuggled into the country from the Gulf.
They said the action was taken after an internal probe found that a customs superintendent, two inspectors and a head havildar, posted at the airport allegedly assisted the syndicate in smuggling gold.
Officials said action would be initiated against the officials under Customs Act and rules of service conduct.
The role of some more personnel belonging to the same batch of the customs team posted at the airport was under the scanner of the Commissionerate, officials said.
These officers belong to the batch of personnel posted at the airport since January 8, they said.
A special customs team deputed by the commissionerate conducted searches at the residences of the officials as part of the internal probe following the joint operation by the central agencies found their alleged links with the cigarette smugglers.
Sources said over two dozen passengers have also been detained in connection with smuggling of cigarettes, gold and currency through the airport.
Besides, cigarettes, gold and currencies were seized in the operation carried out based on intelligence inputs, they said.
According to sources, said the cigarettes' being smuggled can easily be detected in scanning, but such checking and recovery were not carried out effectively.
The less number of seizures from the side of officials generated suspicion about their involvement and based on intelligence inputs, a joint operation was launched to bust the syndicate, the sources said.