National Crime Agency strikes gold at Heathrow

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The National Crime Agency has seized gold worth £4 million as part of an international investigation into a suspected South American drugs cartel.

The shipment was detained at Heathrow Airport on 1 June by officers from Border Force, acting on intelligence from the NCA.

It arrived in the Cayman Islands on a private jet from Venezuela, before being transported to Switzerland.

The gold is 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, weighing a total of 104 kilos, have been seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act following a hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates Court.

Steve McIntyre, NCA Heathrow branch commander says the shipment is believed to be linked to South American drugs cartels.

He says: “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 says: “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.”