Two South Americans were nabbed at a Florida airport with $5 million in gold.
The Venezuelan residents, Jean Carlos Sanchez Rojas and Victor Fossi Grieco were arrested Sept. 20 with more than 200 pounds of gold stashed in their private plane, reported the Miami Herald.
The gold bars were concealed inside the plane’s nose and were discovered by federal agents after landing at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
Pilot Fossi Grieco and passenger Sanchez Rojas were flying from from Caracas, according to a federal criminal affidavit filed Monday.
When Customs and Border Protection agents noticed loose rivets on the plane’s nose compartment, they and located the gold hidden under a metal panel, said the agency.
The gold is believed to have been smuggled to line the pockets of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, according to the Herald.
Sanchez Rojas, 41, told agents that he got the precious metal from “multiple sources” in Venezuela and planned to sell it in the U.S., according to an affidavit. He added he was to receive a commission for its successful delivery, which weighed 230 pounds, according to agents.
After touching down in Florida, Sanchez Rojas and Fossi Grieco didn’t declare the gold to customs officials, states the affidavit.
“It may be that there was no violation of the law,” explained Sanchez Rojas’ attorney, Joseph Rosenbaum. “We’re looking into it and planning to turn over every stone.”
The suspects, who are being held in different Broward County jails, could face 20 years behind bars if convicted of smuggling.