Smugglers transporting $1.8 mln worth mammoth tusks from Russia detained in Belarus
MINSK. May 26 (Interfax) - Smugglers transporting mammoth tusks from Russia to the West have been detained in Belarus with a batch of tusks worth $1.8 billion, the Belarusian State Border Committee said on Friday.
"At the time of their detention, the perpetrators were preparing to ship another batch of mammoth tusks and their fragments with a total weight of 3.5 tonnes to Lithuania. Their price on the shadow market is about $1.8 million," the committee said.
The members of a cross-border criminal group smuggling mammoth tusks through the territory of Belarus have been detained, it said.
"The operative units of the border service uncovered the activities of an international criminal group, which was engaged in organizing a channel to smuggle mammoth tusks extracted in Yakutia. The criminals transported them from Russia to the United States and countries in Western Europe and South Asia," it said.
In addition to smuggling, the detained individuals are also suspected of breaching tax laws.
"It was established that the criminal group created a number of affiliate companies in several countries for the purpose of concealing illegal activities and tax evasion," the Belarusian State Border Committee said.
The criminal case has been initiated, with further investigative and search measures underway.