French consul worker busted for smuggling millions in gold

Driver caught trying to enter Israel from Jordan with 152 kg of gold, 500 kg of tobacco and $2 million in checks

Gavriel Fiske is a reporter at The Times of Israel

Gold bars (photo credit: CC BY Brian Giesen/Flickr)
Gold bars (photo credit: CC BY Brian Giesen/Flickr)

A French consulate worker was detained after attempting to use an official vehicle to smuggle a large amount of gold, tobacco and checks into Israel from Jordan.

The worker, a French citizen in charge of the Jerusalem consulate’s garage, was passing through the Allenby border checkpoint last week when Israeli customs officials, alerted by the strong smell of tobacco emanating from the vehicle, asked to search the automobile, AFP reported.

The driver initially refused on the grounds that the car had diplomatic plates and that he possessed a service passport, a type of passport issued to diplomatic staff.

The driver grew nervous and asked to be allowed to return to Jordan, but Israeli officials refused. He called his superiors who got in touch with the French Foreign Ministry in Paris, which recommended allowing the search.

The smuggler eventually complied, revealing a valuable cargo of 152 kilograms (335 pounds) of gold bars, 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of tobacco, $2 million in checks and hundreds of new cellphones.

The gold alone is worth over $6.5 million.

The man was arrested by Israeli police and deported, but his fate back on French soil was not clear. A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Israeli and French authorities had “cooperated fully” on the case and added that the ministry had “absolutely no tolerance for this kind of behavior.”

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