Three residents of eastern Jerusalem were arrested overnight Wednesday at Ben Gurion Airport upon their return from Dubai, on suspicion of trying to smuggle a thousand gold coins with a total weight of more than 8 kg (17.6 lbs.), with a market value estimated at two million shekels ($605,000), Maariv reported.
The seized coins are English sovereign, 22-carat gold. The sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom that has a nominal value of one pound sterling. Many of the variant designs of the sovereign since 1989 have been intended to appeal to coin collectors, as have the other gold coins based on the sovereign, from the quarter sovereign to the five-sovereign piece. As a legal tender coin, the sovereign is exempt from capital gains tax for UK residents. The value of each coin seized is estimated at 2,000 shekels ($605).
The coins were hidden inside two dedicated belly belts which two of the three passengers carried on their person. The suspects were taken for interrogation at the Jerusalem Customs and VAT Investigations Office and were brought before a Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge in the morning. They were remanded to detention for three days.
The suspects were arrested as part of a joint operation of the Jerusalem Customs and VAT Investigations Department and the Ben Gurion Airport Drugs and Customs Unit, against a network of gold smugglers from Dubai. About a month ago, another east Jerusalem resident was arrested upon his return from Dubai, with one-ounce gold coins worth about a million shekels on his person, hidden in a belt similar to those caught Wednesday morning. The authorities suspect that the man who was arrested about a month ago belongs to the same network as the three captured just now.