Police seize 162 pounds of smuggled gold at South African airport

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This loot is worth its weight in gold.

Police in South Africa are investigating a possible international gold smuggling ring after seizing 162 pounds of gold bars worth about $4.1 million at a Johannesburg airport.

The South African Police Services circulated photos of the precious metals on Monday, revealing that three suspects from Madagascar were arrested at O.R. Tambo International Airport after the bars were discovered in their carry-on luggage. Authorities thought something looked suspicious when the bags went through a security check, the Associated Press reports.

Police are investigating a possible international gold smuggling syndicate after three suspects were arrested with the gold bars in their carry-on luggage. (South African Police Services via AP)

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"Upon questioning of the suspects and further inspection of their hand luggage, officials discovered the gold bars and some foreign currency," said police spokeswoman Col. Athlenda Mathe.

From three, the suspects handed over certification papers for the gold. Now, South African authorities will work with the international Interpol and the nations involved to verify the origin and destination of the gold bars, Mathe said.

The police spokeswoman added there’s a "possibility" the three suspects may be hit with money laundering and fraud charges in the future.

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The suspects, who were traveling from Madagascar to Dubai via South Africa and Ethiopia, made their first court appearance Monday. The trio is due back in court on Jan. 12 for a formal bail application.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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