In separate hauls, customs officials seized 328 gold bars, weighing around 41kg, at the Shahjalal International Airport yesterday.
Officials from the Customs Department and the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) made the recovery and also arrested four men connected with the smuggling – Amirul Islam, 27, Mohammad Iqbal Hossain, 32, Mohammad Ali, 50, and Shariful Islam, 32.
Hossain Ahmed, Customs Department commissioner at the airport, said gold smuggling seemed to increase before Eid because the smugglers might have assumed that airport vigilance would be minimal.
The Customs Department recovered 278 gold bars weighing over 35kg in two separate hauls and arrested three persons, while the CIID personnel seized 50 gold bars weighing around 6kg and arrested another person, according to airport sources.
In one of the hauls, the Customs Department officials recovered 270 gold bars weighing around 31kg around 3:30pm from a Biman Bangladesh Airlines plane coming from Thailand and arrested Mohammad Ali and Shariful Islam.
“Half of the gold was recovered from inside two seats of the flight, and the rest was found hidden in one of its washrooms,” said the customs commissioner.
“The flight came from Thailand, but we have information that the gold came from Dubai. The smugglers took a detour to Thailand to dodge the law enforcers.”
In another haul, the Customs officials seized eight more gold bars weighing 4.4kg from Amirul Islam after he arrived in Dhaka from Malaysia around 1am, he said.
Ishrat Jahan, assistant commissioner at the Customs Department, said four of the eight bars weighed 1kg each, and the rest weighed around 100g.
The CIID, on the other hand, seized 50 gold bars weighing 5.8kg from Iqbal Hossain, who came from Dubai around 2:30am, said Moinul Khan, director general of the CIID.
Earlier on Saturday, members of Armed Police Battalion (APBn) arrested the imam of a Civil Aviation Authorities of Bangladesh (CAAB) mosque in the airport with 18 gold bars and US$18,240 after he arrived in Dhaka from Cairo, Egypt.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Hossain Ahmed, the customs commissioner, said those who were detained at the airport with gold bars were usually just carriers of the smuggled goods, and the main perpetrators remained out of reach.
Gold smuggling in Bangladesh increased after India imposed restrictions on gold import in the country.
The Indian restrictions prompted gold smugglers to opt for the airports in Bangladesh, said sources at the airport and the intelligence agencies, adding that a section of airport officials and employees here also play key roles in the smuggling process.
Several hundred officials and employees of different government and non-government agencies have been arrested for their connection with gold smuggling, the sources said.