Nepalese police have uncovered an international gang of gold smugglers that secretly moved over 33kg of gold into the country in exchange for $16 million worth of Tether (USDT).
According to local media, Dolakha police held a press conference on Tuesday detailing how the gang moved the gold through the Lamabagar border checkpoint with China between November 2022 and September 2023.
Police revealed that over the course of a year, the gang sold the gold for Rs. 2.19 billion ($16 million) worth of USDT using 12 crypto wallets. Police also reportedly revealed that the crypto might be linked to illicit activities separate from the gold smuggling.
The smugglers are said to have employed children to help hide the gold inside potato and flour sacks before transporting it to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu.
In return, the smugglers reportedly sent the sacks back to Tibet filled with fiat cash, musk, and a type of caterpillar fungus known as ‘yarsagumba.’ The fungus reportedly sells for between $40,000 and $50,000 per kilogram and is considered a traditional high-value medicine.
Following the joint investigation by Dolakha police and the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal, 27 people are suspected to be involved in the smuggling operation.
Police have arrested and charged two primary Chinese suspects and 13 Nepalese suspects with gold smuggling while 12 others are said to be on the run.