$5 Million Worth of Gold Seized at Heathrow Airport
(Kitco News) - En route from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland, nearly 230 pounds of gold valued at approximately $5 million were discovered and seized by British authorities.
According to the National Crime Agency, the bullion started its long-haul journey in Venezuela, where it was put on a private jet and sent to the Cayman Islands. It was then flown to the U.K., where it would stop before reaching its final destination of Switzerland.
However, upon its arrival at Heathrow Airport, the gold was seized by British authorities. After a hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court in London, the NCA was granted the right to hold the gold under the Proceeds of Crime Act, which combats money laundering crime and the financing of terrorist activities.
Border Force, the United Kingdom’s border control unit, detained the bullion earlier this month after receiving a tip from the NCA, which has been investigating a suspected drug cartel operating out of South America. The gold shipment is further being investigated by the Cayman authorities in a joint effort with the NCA.
Steve McIntyre, commander of the NCA Heathrow branch, said authorities identified the shipment due to collaboration with partners overseas and locally, which confirmed a link to South American drug cartels.
According to reports, no arrests were made, but British authorities have emphasized that the seizure is a step in the right direction in their efforts to crack down on criminal activity.
“Taking large amounts of money or gold out of the control of criminal networks hits them where they feel it most – in the pocket,” said Nick Jariwalla, director of Border Force’s Heathrow patrol.