July 20, 2019
The National Crime Agency (NCA) out of the United Kingdom is working closely with local authorities to investigate over CI$4 million dollars worth of gold bars that were seized at London’s Heathrow airport on June 1.
The stated in a press release that gold worth around £4 million has been seized by the National Crime Agency as part of an international investigation into a suspected South American drugs cartel.
Officers from Border Force, acting on intelligence from the NCA, moved in to detain the shipment at Heathrow on 1 June. It was being transported from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland, having earlier been shipped to the Caymans on a private jet which had arrived from Venezuela.
The gold is now the subject of a money laundering investigation being run by the Cayman authorities, with the assistance of the NCA. The bars and pieces of gold, which together weigh around 104 kilos, have been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, following a hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates in London.
NCA Heathrow branch commander, Steve McIntyre, said: “We believe that this shipment was linked to drugs cartels operating out of South America. Working with partners overseas and in the UK we were quickly able to identify it and stop it’s onward movement.
“The business model of many organised crime groups relies upon the ability to move money across borders, to fund further investment in criminal activity. “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.”
Nick Jariwalla, Border Force Heathrow Director, said:
“Taking large amounts of money or gold out of the control of criminal networks hits them where they feel it most, in the pocket. “This was a substantial seizure and demonstrates how effectively Border Force works with law enforcement partners, both at home and abroad, to combat organised crime.”
This is an interesting development in light of the fact that the RCIPS and Cayman Islands Border Control Service intercepted a private jet from Venezuela in early July. As reported that plane had declared gold bars on it and a large amount of undeclared cash hidden.
An investigation has since commenced in this case and all for persons on board have now been charged with multiple offenses including smuggling and money laundering. They are due to appear in court on July 31.