Last updated: 10:27 AM ET, Thu March 12 2015

As A Reminder, Don't Try to Smuggle 59 Pounds of Gold Through Customs

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | March 09, 2015

As A Reminder, Don't Try to Smuggle 59 Pounds of Gold Through Customs

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North Korean diplomat Son Young Nam was busted in Bangladesh for reportedly attempting to smuggle $1.67 million worth of gold—almost 60 pounds of the precious metal—into the country on Thursday night.

According to, Son is the first secretary at the North Korean embassy in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and was arriving in the country from Singapore. Authorities demanded to search his possessions upon arrival, but he claimed diplomatic immunity and refused the search for hours.

The diplomat finally allowed security to inspect his bag, and that’s when the stockpile of gold was discovered. He was released under the Vienna Convention, but his gold was confiscated and the authorities plan on prosecuting Son, according to

When asked about the incident, the head of Bangladesh's customs intelligence department, Moinul Khan, told Yahoo News Australia:

He insisted that his bags cannot be scanned because he's carrying a red passport and he enjoys diplomatic immunity. After more than four hours of drama, he gave in and we found gold bars and gold ornaments weighing 26.795 kilograms (59.1 pounds), which is worth 130 million taka ($1.67 million), from his bag.

The smuggling of gold has become a major problem for local customs authorities in Bangladesh over the last 22 months, who have confiscated almost 1,000 kilograms of the precious metal from smugglers coming through the country’s two international airports.

According to Yahoo News Australia, Bangladesh had uncovered just 15 kilograms over the five years previous to the recent string of major busts. Officials believe the influx of smuggling is related to, “India’s imposition of strict import duties on gold.”

As Jelisa Castrodale of pointed out, this is not the first time North Korean diplomats have found themselves in trouble with customs. In 2013, two North Koreans were caught trying to smuggle medicine and other products, and three other similar cases have taken place since 2009.

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