Almost $5 million worth of gold that authorities believe is linked to a South American drug cartel was seized at London's Heathrow Airport, officials said.
The United Kingdom's National Crime Agency said officers with the Border Force moved to detain the shipment June 1. The gold bars were worth about $4,990,000 and weighed almost 230 pounds.
Officials said the shipment had been sent by private jet to Venezuela, then 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 agency.
"The business model of many organized crime groups relies upon the ability to move money across borders, to fund further investment in criminal activity," the agency'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 reinvestment.”
“Taking large amounts of money or gold out of the control of criminal networks hits them where they feel it most — in the pocket," Border Force Heathrow Director Nick Jariwalla said.
Elisha Fieldstadt is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.