Smugglers hide gold in stomach to beat X-ray detection (2023)

(This is Part 2 of the series 'Gold & Diplomacy' by Manorama Online. Read Part 1 here: Unwritten rule in smuggling: Death, the punishment for cheating. That's why Hamsa lost his life)

There are many kinds of gold smugglers — ‘from the small fish to the big shark’, figuratively speaking.

There are students who smuggle gold for pocket money, there are those who do it to raise funds for a plane ticket to home and then there are those who get into it to live a life of luxury. But most of them smuggle the yellow metal in small quantity — often less than a kilogramme.

However, as the sense of safety increases, the smugglers tend to deal in bigger quantities of gold. The attempt to smuggle 30 kg of gold worth about Rs 15 crore in a diplomatic baggage was in the belief that it would not be seized because of the immunity such consignments enjoy.

There are recruiting agencies in Dubai and Kerala that supply carriers for smuggling gold, say Customs official. Each agency gets Rs 5,000 for supplying one carrier.

Same carrier is not used often. That is because they could come under the scanner of Customs officials if they make frequent overseas trips and run the risk of being caught.

A gold smuggler does not necessarily live in luxury. Some do it because of penury. Two years ago, a middle-aged man was arrested at the Trivandrum airport with less than 1 kg of gold. He had been working abroad for many years.

He worked for a meagre salary and he had to take care of the treatment of his daughter and also the household expenses. As he could not save enough money to buy a ticket, he was not able to visit his native place for several years.

When he was promised Rs20,000 and a ticket to Kerala for smuggling gold, he agreed to take up the assignment.

The gold was hidden in his anus and it got trapped. He screamed and then revealed about the gold being smuggled to the authorities.

There are such people, too.

Professional smugglers, however, are at a different level.

Gold in stomach and anus

In the past, gold was made into blocks for smuggling, but now it is smuggled in emulsified or molten form.

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It is difficult to detect gold when it is brought in an emulsified form. Neither scanning or metal detector can catch it.

When gold is melted, filled in devices, brought to Kerala and then melted again to restore it to the original form, there is loss of 10 g for every kg of the yellow metal. The loss could be less when skilled people melt the gold.

Emulsified gold is smuggled by hiding it in anus, swallowing it or hiding it in garment.

People who are not trained cannot carry gold in the anus. The training involves wrapping a tape around a small battery of the TV remote, covering it with a condom and inserting it into the anus. Then the size of the battery is increased.

When gold has to be smuggled, it is filled in tubes, which are then wrapped in tape and the whole thing is then covered in condom before it is put in the anus.

Those who smuggle gold this way regularly face serious health problems.

The DRI has seized gold weighing up to 1.5 kg hidden in the anus.

Once, the DRI arrested a person on suspicion, but the officials could not find gold. Finally, after questioning him when the DRI officials decided to take him for an X-ray the next day, he confessed to carrying gold. He had 1 kg of gold in his anus, but he sat for a whole day without any physical ailments.

Skill to identify

It takes skill to distinguish between faeces and gold in an emulsified form lying in the stomach. There is only a slight difference between the two.

Smugglers hide gold in stomach to beat X-ray detection (4)

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Earlier, when a person caught smuggling was taken to the X-ray room, officials would stand outside to respect the privacy of the person. But, following instances of smugglers trying to escape by winning over X-ray technicians, officials started standing in the room itself disregarding the radiations.

When officials feel smugglers would resort to various tricks to escape, they move with great caution.

Officials say that if gold is found to be in the stomach, the smugglers themselves take it out.

Officials say they have seen smugglers who could remove gold from the anus into the underwear and then keep it aside with the pant while being taken for X-ray. After the X-ray is taken, they put the gold back into the anus without anyone noticing it while wearing the pant back.

Gold cannot be detected with X-ray. But if it is kept in stomach in the form of bricks, it can be.

Gold popped in the form of a pill can also be detected. There are people who smuggle gold in clothes, wigs and footwear. If using footwear, smugglers fill the soles with gold and then stitch them together.

But only a small amount of gold can be smuggled in these manners. Last year’s seizure of 25 kg of gold and the 30 kg of gold caught on July 5 this year were very different from how small-time smugglers operate.

In the 25 kg case, a Customs superintendent Radhakrishnan was found helping the smugglers. He was in charge of the scanning centre.

In the 30 kg case, smugglers were trying to sneak in the gold in a diplomatic baggage that came from the UAE. Now, the quantity of gold smuggled from Dubai will increase only if smugglers feel more safe.

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Smugglers hide gold in stomach to beat X-ray detection? ›

As the police searched him with a metal detector, it beeped at his lower abdomen. He was then taken to a nearby hospital where the X-ray was conducted, and finally, the stash was discovered.

How do you hide gold from an x-ray machine? ›

This is done by dissolving gold in another chemical. Or even powdered gold can be mixed with liquids. The gold can later be recovered via a chemical process. In diluted form, gold will be difficult to detect at airports.

Can airport x-ray machine detect gold? ›

These airport scanners can also detect gold because gold is a metallic object with low conductivity, so the high-frequency radiation of the scanner will see it easily. It is impossible to hide things from airport scanners in your belongings because the scanner gives a clear image of metallic objects.

How can we stop gold being detected? ›

Keep you gold buried in the backyard

Depending on soil conditions, a metal detector can easily find metals buried close to the surface, so make sure you place them deeper than 1,5 meters. Some experts suggest burying a can above your gold to mislead thieves with metal detectors.

Why is gold not detected? ›

But it is one of the best metals to set off a metal detector. So, if a gold nugget has a large amount of iron near it, the iron will mask its signal. As a result, the metal detector will not detect the gold buried underground.

What blocks X-ray detection? ›

Structures that are dense (such as bone) will block most of the x-ray waves, and will appear white. Metal and contrast media (special dye used to highlight areas of the body) will also appear white. Structures containing air will be black, and muscle, fat, and fluid will appear as shades of gray.

What can block X-ray machine? ›

Lead is the most widely used shielding material, because its ability to efficiently shield X-rays is superior to that of other materials owing to its high Z number, high density, and low cost.

Does gold set off TSA? ›

Gold and Platinum are Not Magnetic

The security system at airports is among other things looking for magnetic metals. You are more likely to set off the alarm wearing cheap costume jewelry, frequently made with magnetic metals, than fine gold and platinum jewelry.

Does real gold go off in TSA? ›

Jewellery will only set off metal detectors if it's made from magnetic metals. This means that you don't need to remove good-quality rings, necklaces, bracelets and piercings if they're made from silver, gold or platinum.

Does gold go off in TSA? ›

Most jewelry won't set off any metal detectors due to the materials they're made out of. Gold, platinum, and sterling silver will very rarely set off an alarm and if they do, it's probably because they're mixed with another metallic material. Pure, fine jewelry will likely pass through without a hitch.

Can fake gold pass the magnet test? ›

(Fun fact: Real gold is not magnetic.) Fake gold, on the other hand, will stick to the magnet. If that necklace leaps to the magnet, your significant other has some explaining to do.

Does aluminum foil block gold detectors? ›

Yes, a metal detector will detect aluminium foil.

Can aluminum foil block metal detectors? ›

Metal Detectors Find Aluminum and Metal Contaminants

So, x-ray machines cannot detect aluminum, foil, or metalized film, while metal detectors can.

Is there any machine to detect gold? ›

Yes. Most metal detectors are capable of finding gold but some will do a much better job than others. Since gold has rather low conductivity, metal detectors that use higher frequencies will spot gold better than low-frequency detectors.

Why does my gold stick to a magnet? ›

Pure gold on its own cannot stick to a magnet. However, if you have an alloy of gold, then it could stick to a magnet. An example of a gold alloy that may stick to a magnet is gold with over 20% of its atoms replaced by iron. In very cold temperatures this alloy of gold may magnetize all on its own.

Can scanners detect gold? ›

Yes. Metal detectors will detect large pieces of gold in or on your person. Baggage scanners will see gold (as an opaque item - gold is very dense and X-rays do not penetrate it). If the gold item is large or unusually-shaped, your bags will be searched to find out what the item is.

Does aluminum foil stop Xrays? ›

The answer is yes! Aluminum is an effective barrier against x-rays. As a matter of fact, in addition to lead, Aluminum foil is often used in hospitals as a protective barrier against harmful x-rays.

Does money show up on xray? ›

A good X-ray scanner will always detect money. Airport scanners can detect even the smallest amount of metal and can detect paper. The scanners will always look after things that look different to the norm. In this case, if the currency is arranged in bundles, it will be more easily detected.

Is it illegal to fly with gold? ›

There is no duty on gold coins, medals or bullion but these items must be declared to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer. Please note a FINCEN 105 form must be completed at the time of entry for monetary instruments over $10,000.

Does 14k gold set off metal detectors? ›

14k gold is made up of 14/24 parts gold and 10/24 parts other metals. Once you are wearing a number of bangles, the other metals like nickel and copper will set off metal detectors.

How do I hide things from my airport scanner? ›

Wrap it in plastic. Now wrap that in metal foil, then finally wrap in brown shipping paper. Place it into a snug fitting box with a cover. Duct tape the box closed.

Can you wear 14k gold through airport security? ›

Can you wear jewelry through airport security? Yes, for the most part. Gold, platinum, sterling silver, and other fine jewelry rarely causes an alarm. That means you can wear your rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and watches.

Do zippers set off airport security? ›

While it's possible for the to detect something as small as a single staple, they generally don't have it turned all the way up. Small pieces of metal are not regarded as a threat and it would be a pain for everybody wearing pants. Think about, buttons, pocket rivets and zippers would trigger them every time.

What sets off TSA body scanner? ›

Metal detectors create a magnetic field by using a brief pulse of electrical current. The magnetic field will be reflected back to the machine if there are any metal objects present, such as a watch or a belt buckle. The return signal is detected by the machine and a beeping noise is produced to alert the TSA agent.

What metals set off airport security? ›

Airport metal detectors are sensitive to metals, including orthopedic metal implants inside your body. The most commonly implanted orthopedic materials include stainless steel, cobalt chrome, and titanium.

How do you bring gold on a plane? ›

At the moment, there is a 1kg weight limit for gold. If you choose to carry more than 1kg of gold bullion, you will have to pay additional duty charges on the amount of gold in excess of the 1kg limit. In this instance, you will also have to pay the 12.5% import tax. Of course, India is a very large country.

How do airport scanners detect drugs? ›

Millimeter Wave Scanners.

The technology uses harmless radio waves to penetrate non-metallic items such as fabric, leather, and plastic, revealing 3D images of the objects within. Millimeter wave scanners are extremely sensitive and can easily detect traces of drug particles that might otherwise go unnoticed.

How do pawn shops know if gold is real? ›

The acid test (also known as the touchstone test) is the standard for almost all pawnshops and jewelers in the US, it is second to XRF testing (X-Ray Fluorescence testing) which is far more specialist and expensive. XRF machines can cost $20,000 or more, so you can understand why it's not all too common.

Why don t metal detectors detect gold? ›

Metal detectors with a higher frequency are more able to target small objects. Since most metal detectors operate in between 7-15kHz, they are not the best choice for finding small gold objects. Gold prospecting metal detectors typically operate between 40-100kHz and are better at finding small objects.

Does gold sound off metal detectors? ›

One of the most common questions we get is Does The Metal Detector Detect Gold? The answer is YES, they all do. Some do it better than others. Some detectors like the Minelab Gold Monster or GPZ 7000 are specifically designed to find small gold pieces (which most naturally occurring gold is).

How do I make my metal detector not go off? ›

Any shield , would be in itself inherently magnetic when placed in the field of a detector. The best option is to hide the electro magnetic effects of the object by hiding it amongst other objects of similar characteristics. For instance hide a metal pipe bomb under a metal railway line or a pallet of tinned food.!

What material will stop a metal detector? ›

Metal detectors have a tough time detecting metals like stainless steel, which have very poor electrical conductivity. Stainless steel has low magnetic permeability, which means it does not produce a signal strong enough to be detected. Other items that metal detectors won't be able to locate include: Gemstones.

Does aluminum foil stop sensors? ›

Yes, aluminum foil will block security tags. Therefore, it is often used to block sensors from catching signals sent by anti-theft devices. The primary reason is that several layers of aluminum foil can block radio signals. It gets creative with special bags lined with aluminum foil to avoid detection at the cashier.

What can trigger a metal detector? ›

Multi-Zone Metal Detector

False alarms may be caused by objects in the environment that can emit or reflect electromagnetic fields. Fluorescent lights, computer monitors, and structural steel are some examples of objects that can cause interference.

Can you use any magnet to test gold? ›

Ideally, you could use a Neodymium disc magnet or a similar bar magnet to carry out these tests.

What is the easiest way to test gold at home? ›

Test Gold Using the Float Test

Take a cup or glass, fill it up with water, now bring the gold that you want to test. Drop it into this filled glass. If the gold floats, it is surely not real but if the gold sinks to the end of the glass then it is pure gold. The real gold will sink due to being a heavy metal.

Can I detect gold with my phone? ›

In short, yes, they work. Many Android apps come equipped with a magnetometer. It's mostly used for stuff like GPS or part of the compass functionality. However, it is also capable of detecting metal.

What is the best magnet to test gold with? ›

eodymium magnets are very strong and can help to test the authenticity of gold and silver bars, coins, bullion, or jewelry.

What kind of magnet attracts gold? ›

Since gold is both paramagnetic and diamagnetic, both cancel one another out and become weak. So a strong magnet will attract gold ever so slightly and will also repel it. Therefore, and unfortunately for mining purposes, a magnet that can overcome both effects and heighten the effects of either only, does not exist.

How do smugglers smuggle gold? ›

Gold is also smuggled in as powder, mixing it with iron and potassium to escape detection. According to estimates from the World Gold Council, the seizure rate of illicitly traded gold in India is only about 2 per cent.

Does aluminum foil block X-ray? ›

The answer is yes! Aluminum is an effective barrier against x-rays. As a matter of fact, in addition to lead, Aluminum foil is often used in hospitals as a protective barrier against harmful x-rays.

How do you hide things on an X-ray scanner? ›

Very dense materials generally block x-rays well. Lead and tungsten are frequently used. Of course, if you put these in your luggage at an airport, you'd be pulled aside for "extra screening," since having a chunk of lead in your luggage is a sign that you're trying to hide something.

What material can an X-ray machine not see through? ›

Materials That X-Ray Inspection Systems Can't Detect

Light metals such as aluminum. Wood fragments. Thin plastics. Human hair.

What happens if you wear gold during an X-ray? ›

When metal jewellery is present during radiographic examination, it may prevent visualization of normal anatomy and/or pathoses, as in this case. Non-diagnostic images may lead to retakes, with an increase in ionizing radiation exposure to the patient.

Can TSA xrays see through foil? ›

This is because metal detectors struggle to spot contaminants within aluminum foil packaging, while x-ray inspection can see straight through the low-density foil, ensuring a better view of contaminants such as metal, glass, mineral stone and calcified bone within.

Can 14k gold go in an MRI? ›

MR safe is defined as any object, device, implant, or equipment that poses no known hazards in the MRI environment., meaning they have no magnetic pull and are perfectly safe to enter the MRI scan room without any worries. Some examples are items that are made of plastic, gold, sterling silver, titanium.

Does gold absorb radiation? ›

Gold, a high Z material, is capable of absorbing radiation at significantly higher rates than tissue.


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