Zambia seizes plane from Egypt carrying $5.7 mln cash, gold, weapons

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Zambian officials announced on Tuesday the seizure of a private plane carrying $5.7 million in cash, 602 pieces of suspected gold bars, and five pistols with 126 rounds of ammunition, the Andalou Agency reported.

Following the seizure, 10 people, including a Zambian, six Egyptians, a Dutch, a Spaniard, and a Latvian, were detained by the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) for further investigations.

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Nason Banda, the Commission’s Director General, said while speaking to the press in the capital Lusaka that the chartered aircraft carrying “dangerous goods,” flew from Cairo, Egypt, and landed on Monday evening at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka.

“Acting on this information, we together with officers from various law enforcement agencies conducted an operation which resulted in the seizure of $5.7 million, five pistols, seven magazines (for ammunition loading), 126 rounds of ammunition, 602 pieces of gold weighing 127.2 kilograms (280 pounds) and gold measuring equipment,” Banda said.

The plane on which the items were found and another aircraft belonging to a local airline have been seized.

The money that was seized had been placed in the safe custody of the Bank of Zambia as the probe continued, Banda said.

Mines and Minerals Development Minister Paul Kabuswe on the other hand at a press conference late Tuesday said that the 602 pieces of suspected gold discovered from the seized private plane comprise other metals with gold coating.
The metals discovered in four boxes contained 58 to 61 percent copper, 38 to 41 percent zinc, and trace amounts of tin, osmium, and nickel, all of which were less than 0.8 percent, he added.

"Ministry experts joined the DEC and spent nearly five hours screening the metals,” Kabuswe said.

The minister said the experts comprised gemmologists, metallurgists, and geological survey officials “to ensure a thorough investigation” and the findings have been shared with the DEC, “the law enforcement agency in this case.”

Lubinda Linyama, the attorney for the accused, said his clients were waiting to see the outcome of the investigation before deciding on a legal challenge.

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