Cayman authorities are leading an investigation into a gold smuggling ring with South American drugs cartel connections.
It follows the seizure of gold worth around £4 million by the National Crime Agency as part of an international investigation into a suspected South American cartel.
According to a UK National Crime Agency (NCA) statement Sunday (21 July) officers “from Border Force, acting on intelligence from the NCA, moved in to detain the shipment at Heathrow on 1 June.”
The gold is now the subject of a money laundering investigation run by Cayman authorities, with the assistance of the NCA.
The statement pointed out that the gold was being transported from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland, having earlier been shipped to Cayman on a private jet that arrived from Venezuela.
Four foreigners are currently before the Cayman courts on charges related to that private jet.
According to the NCA release the bars and pieces of gold together weigh around 104 kilos. It has been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, following a hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates in London.
NCA Heathrow branch commander, Steve McIntyre, said, in the statement, investigators believe the 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,” he said.
Commander McIntyre said seizures like these can make a difference in breaking the cycle of organized crime.
“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,” he said.
Commenting on the investigation,
Nick Jariwalla, Border Force Heathrow Director, added, “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.”