Dubai Customs thwart smugglers who melted gold into belt buckles

The passengers were carrying more than 2kg of the metal worth about Dh500,000

The gold had been painted to look like regular metal buckles. Photo: Dubai Customs
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Two passengers travelling through Dubai airport have been caught trying to smuggle Dh500,000 ($136,150) worth of gold into the emirate.

Customs officers seized 2.3 kilograms of 24-carat gold that had been melted down and remoulded to look like belt buckles.

The passengers painted the metal to camouflage them, before wearing them or attaching them to their suitcases.

The gold, worth about Dh485,700, was distributed among several bags and belts, officials said on Thursday.

“With this, Dubai Customs proves again that it stands firm against all the smuggling attempts relying on a team of highly qualified inspectors and very advanced technologies,” said Ibrahim Kamali, director of the Passenger Operations Department.

Two passengers were caught trying to smuggle buckles made out of pure gold into Dubai. Photo: Dubai Customs

“The bag was X-rayed, showing density variation. After thorough examination, we discovered that all the buckles in the bag were made of pure gold and they were painted in a different colour as a means of camouflage. More investigation led to thwarting the second passenger’s haul."

Mr Kamali said the department enrolled its customs officers in specialised training courses aimed at recognising suspicious body language and identifying drug types, as well as investing in the latest detection devices.

“Smuggling methods vary according to the type of smuggled material, size of the shipment and means of transport. Travellers use a variety of tricks, including hiding their contrabands in secret pockets at the bottom of large bags," Mr Kamali said.

"Some smugglers try to take advantage of the quick and simple customs procedures, mistakenly thinking that this would compromise with security, but they are very wrong. There is no compromise whatsoever when it comes to the security and safety of our society and borders.”

On Tuesday, a taekwondo coach returning to India with his young team from Thailand was reported as being investigated on suspicion of smuggling gold worth $35,000.

The unidentified trainer and his 13 team members were stopped by customs officials at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, officials said on Twitter on Monday.

A search of the Indian coach, two others and 10 minors uncovered undeclared gold chains and rings weighing 667 grams.

The seizure came 24 hours after an Indian man was caught at Delhi airport with 216g of gold hidden inside a Thermos flask, shortly after arriving from Singapore.

Two other men were arrested at the airport on September 2 on suspicion of smuggling 12 gold bars from Riyadh, weighing 1.4kg and valued at about $81,676.

Gold prices have drifted towards a six-week low in the face of tightening monetary policy around the world and rising global inflation.

Gold smuggling attempts: in pictures

Updated: September 08, 2022, 10:42 AM