Another day, another Jet Airways scandal and this time it’s a flight attendant who got arrested on the aircraft by India’s Revenue Protection Department after she attempted to smuggle roughly US$500k in cash out of the country.
Smuggling funds out of India especially ill gotten gains has become become a real business since the government went on a corruption crackdown and even went as far as eliminating large Rupee notes from circulation (similar situation in China).
Professional smugglers are using mules such as this flight attendant to carry the cash out of the country for various purposes and then hand it over to the receiving end of the network at the foreign destination. In this particular case it was a flight from Delhi to Hong Kong.
The following article from the BBC (access here) also has some details on the case:
A female flight attendant and another man have been arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle nearly $500,000 (£368,580) in foreign exchange out of India, revenue officials said.
The woman was on a Jet Airways flight from Delhi to Hong Kong when she was caught with the money in her luggage, an official told the BBC. “There could be more arrests of a similar nature,” he added.
The airline said they would not tolerate illegal activity from staff. In a statement, Jet Airways confirmed that the employee had been arrested.
The money that was recovered, which amounts to around 3m rupees, was mostly in $100 notes, an official from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) told the BBC’s Devina Gupta.
It was wrapped in foil paper, which the airport scanner was not able to detect easily, local media reports said.
The DRI confirmed to the BBC that they had “identified the handler who was co-ordinating this operation”, which they said had been going on for the past six months.
The PTI news agency quoted an official saying the alleged handler “would collect money from some bullion dealers in Delhi and send it via some air hostess to select foreign destinations”.
“The money was being used for purchasing gold abroad. The gold would then be sent to India illegally,” the official said.
Smuggling by flight crews isn’t a new phenomenon and certainly not restricted to India or Asia. About two years ago I wrote about the Jet Blue flight attendant who made an escape out of the airport after a random security check revealed 70 pounds of cocaine in her baggage (see article here).
Seems like Jet Airways can’t catch a break as just last week two Jet Airways pilots made their way into the media because they were engaged in a fight en route from London to Delhi (see our article here).
Flight attendants routinely undergo less scrutinized screening (if any, depending on the origin) than regular passengers and that makes them the perfect mules for any type of contraband smuggling.