Nearly $5 million worth of gold bars seized at Heathrow Airport

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By Elisha Fieldstadt  with NBC News World News
Nearly $5 million worth of gold bars seized at Heathrow Airport
Gold seized by at Heathrow during an international cartel investigation.   -   Copyright  National Crime Agency

Nearly $5 million worth of gold that authorities believe is linked with a South American drug cartel, was seized at London's Heathrow Airport, officials said.

The U.K.'s National Crime Agency said officers with the Border Force moved to detain the shipment on June 1. The gold bars were worth about $4,990,000 and weighed nearly 230 pounds.

Gold seized by at Heathrow during an international cartel investigation.
Gold seized by at Heathrow during an international cartel investigation.National Crime Agency

Officials said the shipment had been sent by private jet to Venezuela, then sent to the Cayman Islands and was passing through Heathrow on its way to Switzerland.

The gold was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act, following a hearing, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).

"The business model of many organized crime groups relies upon the ability to move money across borders, to fund further investment in criminal activity," NCA's Heathrow branch commander, Steve McIntyre, said in a statement. "If we can stop that it not only causes disruption to the criminal network involved and prevents them benefiting from crime, it also stops that re-investment."

"Taking large amounts of money or gold out of the control of criminal networks hits them where they feel it most, in the pocket," said Border Force Heathrow Director Nick Jariwalla.