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Gold under a wig, crocodiles in a suitcase and a hidden orangutan: Smugglers foiled

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Images released this week showing customs officials at an airport in India arresting men attempting to smuggle gold and foreign currency under their wigs have shown the latest audacious attempt to outsmart border control officials.

A video was released on social media on Sunday by the Chennai Customs department showing security officials discovering gold paste and cash tightly packed into parcels, and concealed in the wigs of the passengers who had traveled into the country from Dubai on Saturday.

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Visuals put out by the customs department show a man removing his wig and peeling off a packet that was glued to his partly-tonsured head.

The gold was valued at about $344,000 and $33,000 was recovered in cash.

In a press release, the Customs officials at the airport said that, based on a tip-off, two men from Chennai aged 39 and 26, arriving from Dubai via Fly-Dubai FZ8515, were intercepted at the exit as their hairstyles looked suspicious.

“On examination, they were found to be wearing wigs and having partly tonsured heads. Two gold paste packets, weighing 698 grams, were found concealed under their wigs, out of which 595 grams of gold was retrieved.”

A 42-year-old, who arrived by the same flight, was also intercepted, and three bundles of gold paste containing 622 grams of gold, were recovered from his rectum. He has been arrested.

Audacious international smuggling attempts

It is not the first time an outlandish attempt to smuggle counterfeit goods into a country has been attempted – and foiled.

In 2020, a South African man was caught trying to smuggle 70 live animals including crocodiles, dozens of snakes, a turtle, spiders, scorpions and frogs through airport customs in his luggage.

Customs officials were shocked to discover the haul of wild creatures hidden inside plastic tubs as the man passed through O R Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg after arriving from Bangkok in Thailand.

In 2019, a woman was caught with three kilograms of drugs hidden in six walnuts at Dubai Airport’s Terminal 3, while, in the same year, a Russian tourist was sentenced to a year in prison after attempting to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Indonesia in his suitcase.

Two years earlier, in 2017, a Los Angeles man was arrested after federal prosecutors said he arranged to smuggle into the US, three live, highly venomous king cobra snakes hidden in potato chip canisters.

A parcel from Hong Kong was intercepted by US Customs and Border Protection agents containing the 2-foot (0.61 meter)-long snakes concealed inside the canisters.

In 2015, Saudi customs in the town of Khafji, on the border between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, thwarted an attempt to smuggle 11,759 bullets which had been hidden in car tires.

Read more:

Man accused of smuggling king cobras in potato chip cans

Russian jailed in Bali for smuggling drugged orangutan

Saudi customs thwart smuggling of 11,000 bullets hidden in car tires