Group accused of smuggling gold in airplane toilet

Police have arrested six people in connection to an elaborate plot to smuggle gold into Japan to avoid paying taxes.

The six suspects were taken into custody after five gold bars worth about 22.8 million yen ($209,000) were discovered under a panel at the back of a toilet in a plane bathroom.

Authorities believe the scheme had many parts. The first involved one man bringing the gold bars onto a Japan Airlines flight in Taiwan that was heading to Chubu Airport in Japan. He is believed to have hidden the gold bars in the plane bathroom.

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The same Japan Airlines plane was scheduled to be used for a domestic trip to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport from Chubu Airport, Asahi news reports.

The scheme allegedly involved another member of the group boarding the plane when it landed at Chubu Airport, where he would retrieve the gold bars and then carry them off the plane in Tokyo.

The plan was cooked up to avoid customs – since passengers on domestic flights don’t have to go through customs – and therefore get out of paying 1.82 million yen ($16,725) in taxes.

However, the group did not make it to the final step of their plan. Customs officers discovered the gold bars in the toilet before the plane took off for Tokyo, Asahi reports.

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The six involved in hatching and carrying out the plan were taken into custody. Except for the person on the domestic flight, who was not charged. 

The ring leader is thought to be Muhammed Rafieque Muhammed Rezane of Sri Lanka who lives in Japan.

Those arrested have been accused of violating the Customs Law and attempting to dodge consumption tax payments. Police have not reported whether the individuals have pled guilty or not guilty to the charges.

Police are concerned this is part of a larger gold smuggling ring throughout the country.