US seizes gold bars from Curacao worth $1.7M

AP News
Posted: Jan 08, 2013 5:21 PM

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — U.S. authorities in Puerto Rico have confiscated 11 gold bars sent by mail from Curacao, officials said Tuesday, without saying whether the suspected contraband came from a recent heist on the Dutch Caribbean island.

The gold bars were found in several courier packages at an airport in the Puerto Rican town of Aguadilla, said Jeffrey Quinones, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The bars weighed nearly 77 pounds and have an estimated value of $1.7 million.

Inspectors noted that the packages that arrived in mid-December were "unusually heavy," and flagged them for inspection before confiscating the bars as suspected contraband, Quinones said in a statement.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Ivan Ortiz said the source of the gold is under investigation. He declined to say whether officials suspect it came from the Nov. 30 heist in Curacao, in gunmen disguised as police stole 70 gold bars, worth an estimated $11.5 million from a fishing boat that had been used to transport it.

Curacao police spokesman Reginald Huggins said authorities there have six suspects in custody in the theft and have recovered some of the gold, though he declined to say how much. He said he was unaware of the seizure in Puerto Rico.