A 39-year-old Chinese national was arrested with gems worth over Rs. 21 million while he was trying to smuggle them into the country last night, BIA Deputy Customs Director and Customs Spokesman Vipula Minuwanpitiya said.
He said the suspect was arrested while he was leaving the Katunayake airport through the Green Channel with 12 pieces of Gemstones weighing 68.87 ct valued at Rs 21,131,227.
The suspect arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) from Shanghai, China, he said.
“He was arrested with gemstones like Ceylon Sapphire, Cat’s Eye, Ruby and Star Stones. The suspect was a worker at an expressway construction site in Colombo,” Mr. Minuwanpitiya said.
During questioning the suspect had told the customs officers that he had taken out several gemstones out from Sri Lanka earlier to sell in China and brought back the ones which could not be sold there, Mr. Minuwanpitiya said.
Mr. Minuwanpitiya told the Daily Mirror that more than 12 million people used to travel through the Katunayake airport annually and it was unable to check each and every individual who were passing the airport but people were being checked randomly to nab this type of illegal smuggling attempts.
The case was detected by Assistant customs Superintendents R.G.S. Wijewickrama, W.D.G. Vitharana, H.C.M. Peters, PMI Vimukthi and A.M.A.S Amarasinghe.
Investigations were carried out under the Directions of Customs Director O.M Jabeer and Deputy Director RCM Livera .
Later the gemstones were confiscated and a penalty of Rs 100,000 was imposed on the suspect, Mr. Minuwanpitiya said. (Chaturanga Samarawickrama and T.K.G. Kapila)