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[TIDBITS] A Half a Million Dollar Haul


#1

A Half a Million Dollar Haul

The time…seventeen years ago. Circa 1981. I don’t know how much
things have changed since then. Still…the pursuit of wealth
never ends. The means may change…never the desire.

Gold. The stuff of man’s dreams. The royal element. The metal we
use for rings and brooches and chains and bracelets and all sorts
of adornments to enhance our already incredible good looks. How
to get some? How to get more…and more…and more? The
answer…aw heck folks…it’s obvious. Smuggle it.

Indonesia. Halim Airport in Djakarta. The man is middle-aged.
Heavy set. It’s hot out. He’s sweating, apparently from the
strain of carrying his enormous weight in the heat. He’s just in
from Singapore; he’s on the customs line. The man in front
inches forward. Our man inches forward too. He teeters. He grits
his teeth, grunts as he shuffles ahead in the line. He wipes his
brow with an old graying handkerchief. He pales. His knees
buckle. He falls to the floor.

But he can’t get up…try as he might. He struggles. Someone
attempts to give him a hand. No good. The fat man is too heavy.
Three more men arrive on the scene. They grab him under the
armpits. One two three…pull. Finally, the man is standing. No
one can believe such weight. Till they open his coat to give him
some air.

Slotted onto two belts…one wrapped around his chest and the
other around his waist are fifty two kilo bars of gold. The
haul…over a half a million dollars.

No one is surprised. Smuggling is commonplace in Djakarta. If
you buy gold through official channels…you’re subject to
tariffs. Buy it in Singapore…and you’re $10.00 to $15.00 and
ounce cheaper. Do your math. Our chubby chum stood to clear
sixteen grand on this one flight.

Remember folks…before you all quit your jobs for the first
flight to Indonesia…this was a few years back. No reports have
come in lately over the teletype. Things may have tightened up a
bit. If there’s loosening…I’ll let you all know. You want to
know how much gold was smuggled into Indonesia in any one year?
Hmmm? How about fifty tons plus? Profit margin on that kind of
volume…sixteen cool million smackeroos.

What? You can’t make it to Indonesia? You need other avenues…
other lines in which to travel. Okay…as a favor…to those of
you who are caught in the economic crunch of today’s flourishing
economics. (Is there an oxymoron in that past sentence
somewhere?) Back to the track me lads. Access routes for gold
have been opened to Egypt, Morocco, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela.
Want easier routes yet? How about gold that’s been smuggled over
the borders of Italy, and Switzerland, and France, and Spain,
and Portugal, and even dear old mother England.

Once upon a time, one thousand gold Krugerrands were found in
the boot of a smugger’s Rolls Royce. What kind of car do you,
dear reader, drive? And how does this all pertain to the present,
you may all well ask? And how does one know if it all pays? After
all, the romance of smuggling may all be well and good, but the
penalties if one gets caught…that does not sound like fun.
Definitely! So the question is…is there a formula by which we
can guide ourselves in order to know if the reward is worth the
risk?

Well yes there is folks. It goes like this: If the levy or tax on
goods is over six percent, then the smuggling of that item is
most likely worthwhile. I don’t make this up my friends. I get it
from printed sources.

And now…for the altruistic view of things. After food and
shelter and sex and presidencies, the next most important thing
in life is Gold. Everyone knows that. It’s a basic need of
man…and woman. And the modern smuggler–in light of man’s
needs–does not view him or her self as a criminal, but rather as
a servant of the people, fulfilling a primal need in his/her
fellow human being. He is the Saint of modern times…the
fulfiller of dreams…the shining star in an often black sky.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark

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#2

I vaguely recall having read this particular story. The
impression then and now is that this smuggler was pretty dumb.
There are thousands of islands in Indonesia, many of them
unpatrolled and impossible to guard and he could have used a
simple speed boat from Singapore to get ashore anywhere and
disappear into the countryside.

The airport would be one of the very few places in that country
where the presence of police, customs and immigration officers
would be overwhelming. If you had ever checked through that
airport its one of those banana republic types where everyone
with any pretense of a uniform wants his “bakeesh” - the greasy
palm.

Kelvin Mok (klmok@shaw.wave.ca)
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