En route from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland, nearly 230 pounds of gold were discovered by the British authorities. Security officials at Heathrow Airport detained $5 million worth gold bars. Now, the blocks of precious metal are now being treated as laundered goods. While no arrests have been made, the gold bars seized have become a part of the international money laundering investigation led by the Cayman authorities and NCA.
Most of the gold bars seized were in blocks, but at least six pieces of the laundered precious metal were heart shaped. Authorities across the world are now attempting to identify the original source of the gold. This shipment is linked to drugs cartels operating out of South America. However, the NCA was successful in identifying it and stopping its onward movement
Gold bars seized linked to South American drug cartel
According to the NCA, 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.
Large hauls in connection to international drugs trafficking from South America
In 2017, a Heathrow security worker was charged with attempting to import cocaine worth up to £480,000 into the UK from South America. Officially, the security worker was on sick leave but he traveled to the airport in his uniform to meet a drugs courier from Colombia in airport’s toilet, where he was subsequently arrested by police. Later he was sentenced to 13 years in prison.