According to the announcement made by the Federal Customs Service (FTS) of Russia on Thursday, observant customs agents foiled an international plot to smuggle 225 kilograms of gold worth an estimated 760 billion rubles (roughly $12.7 million) through Moscow. The gold was estimated to be worth approximately $12.7 million.
The plan featured two separate groups of three passengers, each of whom switched their luggage while they were inside Vnukovo Airport. The party was apprehended as they traveled towards the United Arab Emirates carrying a lot of gold bars in their luggage.
According to a statement released by the FTS, the attempted robbery took place on August 11. The customs office claims that three Armenian nationals brought the gold into the airport in their carry-on luggage in order to circumvent importation restrictions. They were exempt from having their goods subjected to customs inspection since Armenia is a member state of the Eurasian Economic Union. However, once they were inside, they exchanged their luggage with a group of three Russian citizens who had arrived with no belongings to their name. The Russians were making their way to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
However, customs inspectors who were monitoring the surveillance cameras at the airport observed something strange: three people were pulling their wheeled bags with a great deal of effort. They started following the group and watched them exchanging luggage with the other men before walking to the gate for their flight to Yerevan with a significantly more pep in their step. The customs officers had already boarded their flight when they made the decision to conduct a random inspection of the passengers who were going to the UAE.
After boarding their jet, customs officers at Vnukovo seized the traffickers together with the costly package, according to the FTS.
According to the preliminary report provided by the FTS, customs agents discovered 45 gold bars after boarding the aircraft and searching the baggage carried by the suspects. None of them had been declared, nor had they passed scrutiny at the customs office. All of them possessed the serial numbers and other identifying markers that were required by law. Later on, it was stated in the newspaper Kommersant that the haul consisted of a total of 71 gold bars, with 14 ingots weighing a total of 12 kilograms each and 57 smaller bars weighing one kilogram each.
The group is going to be charged with three felonies, including criminal conspiracy and the smuggling of materials recognized as being of strategic value, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The three Armenian nationals were sentenced to incarceration by a court in Moscow until September 11th. They were known as Artak Ayvazyan, Karen Darbinyan, and Arman Harutyunyan, and they were officially considered to be unemployed. Their legal representation requested that they be placed under home arrest instead, but the judge ruled against the request. After signing statements stating that they would not leave Moscow, the Russian citizens were released pending the outcome of their trials.