CHENNAI, MADURAI: The arrest of a driver who was found ferrying gold smuggled from Sri Lanka led DRI sleuths to his boss, who turned out to be the Ramanathapuram district president of the Congress.
Following a tip-off, a team of officials from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence stopped a Nissan Micra car that was heading towards Tiruchy on the Pudukkottai-Tiruchy highway on Wednesday morning.
After a thorough search, they found 119 gold bars with foreign markings, weighing 11.9 kg in all, cleverly concealed in the air bag compartment.
The vehicle and the gold bars estimated to be worth about Rs 3.58 crore were seized, and the driver, K Gandhi, was taken into custody. During questioning, Gandhi admitted that the gold was smuggled from Sri Lanka and brought to India near Thondi. From there, it was being taken to Chennai by road, to his employer ‘Goodluck’ S Rajendran.
Local sources told Express that Rajendran, hailing from Palaiyanakottai village in Thiruvadanai taluk, ran a travel agency named called Goodluck Travels, which earned him the nickname. The firm used to assist those wanting to go abroad for work, helping them get passport and visa for a fee.
DRI officials added that he has several business interests, including prawn farming, mineral water and bottling plant. He was earlier arrested under FERA, the agency added.
Sources said Rajendran is a staunch supporter of TNCC president S Thirunavukkarasar right from the AIADMK days, moving over to the Congress when the latter did. After the then district president A Ravichandra Ramavanni and his supporters joined the splinter Tamil Maanila Congress, Rajendran was made the Ramanathapuram district president of the party.
Based on the information from Gandhi, who has reportedly been working with Rajendran for over two decades, a team of officials raided his residence in Chennai. Rajendran’s mobile phones, and documents, which the agency claimed were incriminating, were seized from his home.
Both have been arrested and remanded in judicial custody, Rajendran to Puzhal Central Prison near Chennai and Gandhi to Tiruchy Central Prison. Further investigations were on.