Panaji: The head of a gold smuggling syndicate operating between Goa-Bhatkal and the Middle East countries has invested heavily in properties in Goa, according to the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
ED officials, who booked two Goa-based persons and three others Monday night in Bhatkal in Karnataka for money laundering, claimed that the leader of the ring Shaikh Javid had been booked by the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of Customs and Central Excise for trying to smuggle in 19.49 kg of gold in Goa worth Rs 5 crore in July.
"Shaikh Javid is the mastermind behind the gold smuggling at a Goa airport and had attempted the same exercise on earlier occasions also. Javid is in possession of several properties in Goa which are suspected to be earned through smuggling activities," the ED said in a statement.
In July, AIU officials had seized the largest consignment of smuggled gold at Dabolim International Airport from a person Prakash Manotgi, who was part of Air India's ground staff.
Manotgi's interrogation revealed that the gold had been given to him by three Bhatkal residents and he had been allegedly instructed by Javid to collect the consignment.
Javid subsequently absconded during which his house was raided and he was arrested after he surrendered to the authorities.
"There is substantial material relating to the offence of money laundering against these accused. The ED has commenced the investigation against these smuggling mafia by registering an ECIR (Enforcement Case Investigation Record)," it said.
Dabolim airport has emerged as a major transit facility for international smugglers for ferrying gold to Karnataka, Kerala and other states.