What is it with strange stories of gold and airplanes?
Just recently, tonnes of gold and silver bars tumbled out of a cargo plane’s door during takeoff in Siberia, much to the embarrassment of the local authorities. Now, as a rather bizarre Twitter moment has revealed, plenty of gold smugglers flying into India are taking to turning gold into a curious paste in order to get it past security.
“Curious” doesn’t do it justice, to be fair. If the pictures are to be believed – and it’s not clear whether they can be verified yet or not – then it appears that the paste looks less iridescent and glittery, and instead a lot more like the leavings of a living creature capable of some profound bowel movements.
As you’d expect, everyone’s making fairly similar comments online.
The story goes thusly: Officials in Hyderabad airport detained an individual trying to smuggle in a kilogram of gold in the form of this grim-looking ooze. It's reportedly worth around $50,000.
That’s all the information everyone has to go on right now, but to be fair, smuggling gold in the form of a paste has been reported before in a handful of credible outlets. Normally, gold “biscuits” are concealed in places like the airplane toilet, but these attempts clearly didn't pan out. Now, it seems some new, perhaps Au-some chemical wizardry is being deployed.
The alchemy behind the paste is still unclear, however. As The Times of India report, although attempted plenty of times, the gold appears to be powderized before being mixed with “an unidentified paste”. In some cases, it’s hidden in polythene packages wrapped around the smugglers’ lower legs.
In a case dating back to mid-July, four smugglers carrying the paste were arrested at India’s Tiruchirappalli International Airport. Some poor individual then had to spend 10 hours painstakingly segregating the gold from the paste, whose composition is currently being assessed in lab tests.
In this case, it appears that the authorities at Hyderabad airport couldn't be bothered, instead preferring to burn their paste instead.
This latest story comes courtesy of Asian News International, which – according to Media Bias/Fact Check group – have high standards of factual reporting. This is only being mentioned because, on a visceral level, it’s hard to believe that the fecal-esque mess before you could possibly contain so much valuable gold.
Clearly, it's proving to be a little difficult to shake the skepticism off. Whether these images match up to any gold standard of fact-checking or they’re just total shit remains to be seen.