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Aichi: 2 Japanese, 4 foreigners attempted to smuggle gold in airplane toilet

Muhammed Rafieque Muhammed Rezane
Muhammed Rafieque Muhammed Rezane (TV Asahi)

AICHI (TR) – Aichi Prefectural Police and the Nagoya office of Japan Customs earlier this week announced the arrest of six persons, including four foreigners, who were allegedly involved in a scheme to smuggle gold into Japan via toilet on an airplane, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Jan. 29).

On July 23, 2017, Muhammed Rafieque Muhammed Rezane, 48, a Sri Lankan national who operates a used car dealership in Nagoya, a Malaysian national, two other Sri Lankans and two Japanese allegedly worked together to try to smuggle five gold bars — each weighing 1 kilogram — into the country by hiding them in the toilet of an airplane that arrived at Chubu Centrair International Airport from Taiwan.

According to police, the gold is worth about 22.8 million yen. Had the scheme been successful, the suspects would have avoided 1.82 million yen in consumption taxes.

The suspects have been accused of violating the Customs Law regarding attempted smuggling.

Discovered during inspection

In carrying out the plan, one suspect used white tape to affix the gold inside the urinal of the Japan Airlines plane, police said. The aircraft was then scheduled to fly to Haneda Airport in Tokyo, a domestic route that does not require passengers to clear customs.

At Chubu Centrair International Airport, another member of the ring boarded the flight to Tokyo with the intention of retrieving the gold. However, the bars were discovered during an inspection by customs officials.

A 32-year-old Sri Lankan national was apprehended after he was found to be in possession of white tape similar to that used to hide the gold. During questioning, the involvement of the other suspects surfaced.