2 Venezuelans accused of smuggling $5M in gold to Florida

September 24, 2019

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Two Venezuelans have been charged with smuggling about $5 million in gold bars into Florida in a private plane.

A federal criminal complaint filed Monday charges Jean Carlos Sanchez Rojas and Victor Fossi Grieco with hiding the gold bars inside a metal panel of the aircraft’s nose. The plane landed last week at a small airport in Fort Lauderdale.

Authorities say Sanchez Rojas told Homeland Security Investigations officials he had $24,000 in cash but did not declare the gold bars. Authorities later noticed loose rivets in the aircraft’s nose, and Sanchez Rojas and Fossi Grieco told authorities 230 pounds (104 kilograms) of the gold was there.

It’s unclear whether the smuggling was directed by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whose government is struggling economically.

Court records did not immediately list attorneys for the men.