A few examples of strange locations where gold or coins were found over the last several years include a septic tank underneath an elementary school in China; a briefcase of a North Korean diplomat; and the stomach of man in India. The latter two incidents took place at airports.
Fittingly, we can now add an airplane latrine to this odd list!
According to an announcement by customs officials in India, the toilet of a Qatar Airways flight contained multiple unclaimed packages of gold coins contained in small packets. In total, there were 246 gold coins stashed away in the toilet. It’s unclear whether or not the owner left them there with the intention of returning later for the coins, or if they chose to ditch the gold to avoid getting caught. What is clear is that this was a failed attempt to smuggle gold into the country.
India has an enormous gold smuggling problem. This has arisen due to the government imposing strict duties and limits on all imports of gold. However, the demand for the yellow metal is so strong in India, people will continue to have an incentive to break the law and smuggle gold across the country’s borders. In an extreme case in 2014, a man even swallowed several small gold bars in an attempt to elude the authorities. (He quickly became ill and needed emergency surgery to remove the bars and survive.)
Customs later reported that sources had provided a tip about the hidden packets of gold coins. Most likely, this gold was attempted to be smuggled from surrounding areas in the Middle East. Considering the demand for gold in India is strong enough to support a robust black market, there is a clear motivation for people to attempt to smuggle gold into the country.
The 246 gold coins are worth approximately Rs. 57 lakh, or 57 lakh (10,000) Indian rupees. This is equivalent to $855,000 in terms of U.S. dollars.
Owing to the rash of gold smuggling cases that authorities in India have encountered in the past several years, this is hardly the first time that gold has been confiscated from a plane landing in the country. According to The Statesman, “Customs officials recovered gold coins worth Rs.10 lakh [~$15,000] from a passenger coming from Dubai on a flight on March 17 while 10 gold biscuits worth over Rs.33 lakh [~$45,000] were found from another passenger in February.”
In fact, it’s not even the first time this particular airline has dealt with a package of gold hidden in its bathroom! “Officials found five kg of gold hidden in the toilet of another Qatar Airways flight in July last year,” the same article reports.
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