Nearly three years ago, gold worth around £4m was found in the cargo area of a plane at London’s Heathrow Airport.
In June 2019, the National Crime Agency (NCA) seized 104kg of gold bars, some in the shape of a heart, on board a plane arriving from the Cayman Islands and stopping at Heathrow on its way to Switzerland.
The gold was flown to the Cayman Islands on a private plane from Venezuela in South America.
The NCA, working with Cayman Islands authorities, identified South American drug cartels trying to conceal where the gold came from Venezuela.
After discussions with the High Court, NCA obtained a civil recovery order – requiring proof that the asset or property was obtained through unlawful acts – over 80% of the gold.
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The remaining 20% will be returned to companies with financial interests.
NCA Division Commander Andy Noyes said: “Criminals are attracted to gold as a way to move drug money because of its high value in relatively small amounts.
“This intervention disrupts criminal networks and prevents them from reinvesting in further criminal activity that harms our communities.”