Maghreb: wanted to take out 26 tons of gold, two officials arrested

A gold smuggling case is rocking the Maghreb region as Libyan authorities thwarted an ambitious plan to smuggle nearly 26 tonnes of gold out of the country. The spectacular raid resulted in the arrest of two senior customs officials, exposing the complex workings of smuggling in the region.

The affair broke out when authorities launched an investigation into possible large-scale smuggling at Misurata Airport, located 200 kilometers from the capital Tripoli. According to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office, several customs officers were arrested for their alleged involvement in this illegal operation. Among them is the Director General of Customs as well as officials from Misurata Airport.

The scale of the smuggling attempt is staggering: nearly 26 tons of gold in the form of bars were to be smuggled out of the country. This amount represents an estimated value of around 1.75 billion francs in current prices. If successful, the attempt would not only deprive Libya of key resources, but also bolster an already thriving smuggling network in the region.

This case is not an isolated case. The prosecutor’s office already launched an investigation into a similar case of gold smuggling from Misurata International Airport last January. Organizations such as The Sentry have also highlighted Libya’s key role as a transit zone for gold smuggling to countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.

According to NGO reports, several major transit points are used to illegally export gold from Libya, including the ports and airports of Misurata, Zliten and Khoms in the west, as well as Benghazi port and airport in the east. These smuggling networks are supported by the complicity of customs authorities and port and airport infrastructures, which highlights the need to strengthen control and surveillance measures in these sensitive areas.

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