Kochi/Kannur: An ongoing probe has revealed that some of the organised crime, particularly looting of gold smugglers, in Kerala is directed by a gang based in Dubai. Its operators were behind several instances of smuggling, betrayal, revenge and bloodshed involving several gangs reported from Kerala of late.
The reach of of the Emirati gang was unravelled during the interrogation of suspected gold smuggler Arjun Ayanki by the Customs.
The probe had commenced after the death of five persons at Ramanattukara in Kozhikode district in a road accident on June 21.
Investigators found that the gang led by Arjun Ayanki had robbed smugglers 22 times in the past. Ayanki was arrested after interrogation in Kochi on Monday evening.
Smugglers based in Koduvally, however, claimed that they had been robbed 25 times.
The modus operandi
The investigation into the gold smuggling rackets revealed that the agents brought gold from Dubai and passed them on to carriers, who represented the smugglers. The Dubai gang often turned double agents, and tipped off the robbers about the carriers arriving in India with the gold.
Playing double agent was lucrative, the probe revealed. The Dubai agent received commission from the smugglers as well as the robbers. Information on those rackets ‘daring’ to bargain were passed on to the Customs and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) for a reward.
Investigators learned about the modus operandi of double agents from Mohammad Shafeeq, who was arrested at the Karipur airport with 2.33 kilograms of smuggled gold on June 21.
Jaleel, the double agent
It has been suspected that one, Jaleel, played the double agent between the Koduvally smugglers and Ayanki’s gang.
Jaleel reportedly handed over the gold meant for the Koduvally gang to Shafeeq, the carrier who was arrested on June 21 at the Kozhikode airport. He simultaneously informed Ayanki of the arrival of the consignment. He even introduced the carrier to Ayanki, and facilitated bargaining between the two men for a deal.
It is not known whether Jaleel had betrayed Shafeeq by informing the Customs too. If he had informed the authorities, he would get legal protection extended to those providing credible information helping in preventing smuggling of contraband.
Besides Jaleel, two others, Saleem and Muhammad, too, have been identified as part of the Dubai gang. It has been suspected that Saleem was a member of a gang that had arranged gold for K T Ramees, the kingpin of the racket that had smuggled in gold through diplomatic channels.
Sphere of activity
The gangs robbing smugglers have been active in Trivandrum, Cochin and Calicut airports. They have links with contract (quotation) gangs in Cherpulassery, Perumbavoor and Attingal.
Interestingly, the gangs also bargained with the same smugglers if they failed in selling the gold. They established good contacts with political parties to avoid police intervention. It has been suspected that Ayanki’s gang had more members with active CPM links.
Ayanki was marked
Investigators, meanwhile, suspect that the Cherppulassery gang’s intention was to kidnap and murder Ayanki on June 21, the day the fatal accident occurred during a high-speed chase of three gangs in Kozhikode.
The gang was contracted by the Koduvally-based smugglers, who had lost much gold to Ayanki.
The gangs’ plans went awry when the car in which Cherpulassery men were travelling smashed into a cement-laden lorry at Ramanattukara, killing five. The car was reportedly chasing Ayanki, who was returning from the Kozhikode airport after learning about Shafeeq’s arrest.
Meanwhile, it has been suspected that the voice in an audio clip stating that the looted smuggled gold belonged to Sreelal, an aide of Ayanki.
Police said C Sajesh, whose car Ayanki had used, is currently not a subject of probe.
The car was found hidden in the thickets on a hillock opposite the Medical College Hospital at Pariyaram on Sunday.