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Customs seize 3 tons of Siberian jade being smuggled by sea to North Korea en route to China

By The Siberian Times reporter
23 October 2015

SWAT team ambush illegal cargo at night in open seas off coast of the Democratic People's Republic.

In China, this mineral is considered a 'sacred rock' and it can command a higher price than gold. Picture: Far Eastern Operational Customs

The high-quality jade from the Republic of Buryatia was being exported to China without export documents. Its value was put at 50 million roubles or $800,000. Customs spokeswoman Tatiana Shichanina said: 'We had a tip off that the smuggling was planned and decided to arrange ambush.'

The operation was led from customs vessel 'Petr Matveev'. Officers seized ten sacks of jade. The crew were detained and taken to Vladivostok. 

In China, this mineral is considered a 'sacred rock' and it can command a higher price than gold. The value of the ornamental rock in China encourages criminal gangs to collect and smuggle it.

Jade smuggling


Jade smuggling


Jade smuggling


Jade smuggling

This was the first time by sea, and while inscriptions showed the ultimate destination was China. Pictures: Far Eastern Operational Customs

This time of year is seen as 'high season' for the 'black diggers' but usually the jade is smuggled by land. 

This was the first time by sea, and while inscriptions showed the ultimate destination was China, the route was intended to be via secretive authoritarian state North Korea.

An expert told Komsomolskaya Pravda: 'It may well be that this whole batch of jade had been gradually brought to some collection point during several months. 

Jade smuggling


Jade smuggling

On 23 September, police in Buryatia seized more than 40 tons of jade, allegedly stolen from a processing company. Picture: Ministry of Internal Affairs in Buryatia Republic

'Most likely, the perpetrators initially transported stones in parts. Some in the train, some by car, more by truck, covering it  with other goods. I think if there is such a sophisticated smugglers' route - to China via North Korea, some high ranking people might be interested in this delivery.'

The crew of smuggling vessel face up to seven years in jail and a fine of 1 million roubles. Earlier, on 23 September, police in Buryatia seized more than 40 tons of jade, allegedly stolen from a processing company. 

Comments (1)

That means the system in N.Korea is more corrupt than some think....

N.Korea should be integrated in the same economic area as Russia and China opening its economy and trade links.
Enrique, Spain
23/10/2015 21:20
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