More than 100 kg of gold 'linked to drugs cartels' seized at U.K. airport
More than 100 kilograms of linked to South American drugs cartels was seized by officials at London’s Heathrow Airport. The gold haul is estimated to be worth $5.8 million. (NCA)
Jeremiah Rodriguez, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Sunday, July 21, 2019 1:26PM EDT
More than 100 kilograms of gold linked to South American drugs cartels was seized by officials at London’s Heathrow Airport.
In a press release, officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) – the United Kingdom’s lead agency against organized crime -- said the gold had initially been flown out of Venezuela to the Cayman Islands by a private jet.
U.K. border officials seized the gold on June 1 as it passed through Heathrow Airport, as it was making its way to Switzerland.
Much of the seized gold was in blocks and small pieces. However, some of the gold was found in heart-shaped pieces.
NCA, which also tackles human, weapon and drug trafficking, said they’d been assisting Cayman authorities with a money-laundering investigation.
The agency’s Heathrow branch commander, Steve McIntyre, said “we believe that this shipment was linked to drug cartels operating out of South America.”
He added NCA had been working with partners overseas and in the U.K. and were “quickly able to identify it and stop it’s onward movement.” McIntyre explained the gold haul would strike a blow to organized crime groups involved.
“If we can stop that it not only causes disruption to the criminal network involved and prevents them benefiting from crime, it also stops that re-investment,” he said.
General director of the NCA Lynne Owens also praised the work of the authorities involved and that it represented U.K.’s "further progress" in preventing the country being used as a "route for illicit finance."
"Excellent work by our international network and others supported by Border Force," she wrote on Twitter.
Nick Jariwalla, the Heathrow director of the U.K.’s border agency, agreed saying “taking large amounts of money or gold out of the control of criminal networks hits them where they feel it most, in the pocket.”
A recent hearing at London’s Uxbridge Magistrates' Court allowed the gold to be officially held under the U.K. Proceeds of Crime Act.