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View Full Version : TSA security stuff -- Need to sneak gold into another country. Is this scenario plausible?



Plot Device
12-06-2010, 08:14 PM
My MC has a stash of small gold bars.

[See these images]

http://gulfnews.com/polopoly_fs/pure-gold-1.632998!image/771420530.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_475/771420530.jpg

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4045/4358897049_868a7ec41c.jpg

He needs to sneak them into another country. So he takes from the family mantlepiece a lead urn (must be made of lead!) in which the cremeated remains of a deceased family memebr are stored. He empties the ashes out and sets them aside.

He melts down the gold and fills the urn ALMOST to the top with the molten gold. Then after it cools, he dumps only some of the ashes on top and closes the urn again. Thus he hopes to sneak the urn past customs.

Would he get away with it?

---------------

I had another possible scenario also.

He gets a lead urn like this:

http://www.joanbogart.com/janda/products/productimage/654a.jpg

And the base is completely hollow. But he opens the base, fills it up with the gold, then seals it inside. Then the top of the urn he fills with the ashes.

Would THIS work?




::ETA::


I wated to avoid burdening you guys with too many plot details. But here's the sitch .....


My story is set about 5 years in the future and is a vision of the collapse of the global economy. My MC is a master plumber living in Philadelphia, divorced with partial custody of his only child (he gets his son every other weekend). Life is already quite dismally bad in my future Philadelphia with gasoline sellng for $14 a gallon and unemployment rampant, crime rampant, etc.

My story starts in September. My MC gets a contract to do some plumbing work at the house of a super rich lady. Stuff happens. They have a brief romance. She tries to tell him that the time is soon coming for when TSHTF. He doesn't believe her. They have a friendly parting of ways. She gives him a fairwell gift of a box of gold bars, explaining to him "You're going to need it."

He spends a few months doing his own personal research about everything she tried to explain to him. He eventually allows himself to believe only some of it --just enough of it to where he buys camping gear and MRE's and other survival equipment (just in case) and even gets a satellite phone. Other than that he continues with life as usual.

When December arrives, his ex-wife and her new Irish boyfriend take the MC's son to Ireland for Christmas to meet her boyfriend's family. While they are there the US dollar collapses. Total chaos. My MC calls Ireland on his satellite phone and speak to his ex-wife. He tells her to stay where she is, keep their son safe, and he will come to them. She disputes that since the airlines aren't even running anymore. He says he will find a way, but he will be there.

He goes back to his plumbing shop, takes out his welding kit, and performs the gold-melting/stashing deed of hiding the gold in the lead urn. Then he heads for the waterfront to hitch a ride across the Atlantic on a freighter. When he gets there he finds that a lot of other people had the same idea as him -- the waterfront is jammed with people all pleading to come on board the various ships that are there. One ship that is heading to Northern Eurpe annouces they are only taking men. My MC arranges for passage on that ship, and is getting ready to board that ship with his luggage. But then someone else who knows my MC and who is also about to board the ship spots my MC and takes him aside, explaining to him that he is cousins with the First Mate, and that the real truth is that every American man who gets on the ship will be Shanghaied. Not sure what to do in the midst of all the other chaos there in the harbor, he suddeny gets a call on his satelite phone from the wealthy lady -- she is pregnant. He gives the package to his friend and makes him swear he will deliver it to his ex-wife in Ireland. He doesn't tell his friend the truth about the gold, just tells him it is family ashes. Then he heads back through the City and toward the house of the wealthy woman.


So ........

This won't be a normal customs situation like what we are used to at an airport because it's a ship. And in my scenario we will have a severe breakdown of normal procedures in general.

The REAL question is: could he fool the sailors on that ship?

And could this friend of my MC's make it past Irish customs?











::ETA::

.

thothguard51
12-06-2010, 08:26 PM
Weight is a big issue. Gold weighs more than ashes. If a TSA official notes him struggling with his luggage they are going to pull him aside.

Also, just because the urn is lead and can not be x rayed, he is going to get a luggage inspection.

Why not just mail the bars via UPS or other shipping company.

Marlys
12-06-2010, 08:39 PM
Yeah, it would be too heavy. Here are some figures: Cremation urn size calculator (http://www.mainelyurns.com/cremation-urn-size-calculator.html) suggests urn size should be at least equal in cubic inches to the weight of the deceased. Gold weighs just over 11 ounces per cubic inch. So an urn for, say, a person who weighed about 150 pounds would be 150 cubic inches. Fill that up almost to the top with gold--say, 120 cubic inches--and the weight of the gold would be over 80 pounds. Security would notice the disproportionate weight immediately, plus it would be very hard to carry. Make the urn smaller and you'll reduce the weight, but not the density--it would still be noticeable.

I can't tell the size of the urn in your second example, but if there's a lot of gold the weight will still be a problem.

How much gold is necessary to your plot?

Stanmiller
12-06-2010, 08:43 PM
To get it into countries not cooperative with US Customs and TSA, IMO your big problem may be getting it through customs at the other end.

Your best bet might be to smuggle it to Panama, then open an offshore account that you can access with a debit card from anywhere in the world. Plus you get all the fun of researching offshore banking.

Stan

thothguard51
12-06-2010, 08:51 PM
I have another thought...

Gold and lead are both soft metals. Melting points may be close to the same. Pouring melted gold into a lead urn may contaminate the gold...

Just another thought.

Stanmiller
12-06-2010, 08:59 PM
I have another thought...

Gold and lead are both soft metals. Melting points may be close to the same. Pouring melted gold into a lead urn may contaminate the gold...

Just another thought.

How about recasting the urn in solid gold, then painting it gray?

thothguard51
12-06-2010, 09:05 PM
Stan,

That sounds reasonable, but the custom inspectors are more use to the various methods smugglers use than the average TSA guys.

Drachen Jager
12-06-2010, 09:45 PM
I agree with the above, TSA is no problem. Customs is where you'll see trouble.

But really they're far more concerned about drugs and such. Why smuggle the gold out anyhow? There are lots of channels to sell it inside the United States. Much easier to transfer money out of the country or just get yourself a bank draft to cash at your destination.

PeterL
12-07-2010, 12:17 AM
Why is the MC messing around with shipping gold. It would be much easier to sell the gold, take the cash to a foreign bank, and have the bank send it along. Selecting an appropriate foreign bank can make all the difference. Some of them have a single office in the U.S. that is to assist its citizens in avoiding U.S. taxes.

If you insist on sending the physical gold, and the problems of assaying it at the other end and the loss in value because it isn't in certified bars make no difference, then casting it as an urn for the ashes would be much better than trying to fill the lead urn with molten gold. Gold has a melting oint of about 1660 F, and lead has a melting point of about 512 F, so the molten gold would completely melt the lead.

backslashbaby
12-07-2010, 02:18 AM
Cast it into plates and cups like the Morocco exhibit at Epcot Center has, put a bunch of Disney price tags on it, et voila! Tourist gifts. Make sure to throw in a Mickey Mouse-ear hat :D

Plot Device
12-07-2010, 02:58 AM
Valid questions and concerns all around. So I went back up and edited the OP with more details.

Marlys
12-07-2010, 03:27 AM
But then someone else who knows my MC and who is also about to board the ship spots my MC and takes him aside, explaining to him that he is cousins with the First Mate This seems to be the key right here. Forget about the awkward melting the gold into a big lump (what's his ex-wife going to do with a huge lump of gold, anyway?). Have the box be filled with krugerrands, instead--much easier use for currency.

The friend who is cousins with the first mate gets the first mate to let him steal a dinghy and sneak off to shore before the ship goes through customs. He then delivers (or doesn't deliver, according to plot requirements) the gold to the ex-wife.

Plot Device
12-08-2010, 12:17 AM
This seems to be the key right here. Forget about the awkward melting the gold into a big lump (what's his ex-wife going to do with a huge lump of gold, anyway?). Have the box be filled with krugerrands, instead--much easier use for currency.

The friend who is cousins with the first mate gets the first mate to let him steal a dinghy and sneak off to shore before the ship goes through customs. He then delivers (or doesn't deliver, according to plot requirements) the gold to the ex-wife.


Okay. This works. :)

veinglory
12-08-2010, 02:02 AM
What exactly is the barrier to just taking the gold? You are allowed to transort tens of thousands of dollars with you when you travel.

jclarkdawe
12-08-2010, 02:36 AM
I think smuggling it across borders is the least of your worries. You've got better than a 400% increase in the price of gasoline and you're describing the system going down the toilet. Gold prices are going to increase a lot in that sort of situation.

I believe gold is currently trading at around $1400.00 US per ounce. With a 400% price, gold would be worth $5,600.00 per ounce. My guess is in your scenario, gold would have increased in price even more.

At $5,600.00 per ounce, a pound of gold would be worth $89,600.00 and be easily carried in your pocket. (My cell phone weighs 3.5 ounces, so it would be like carrying five cell phones -- i.e., not much.) Ten pounds would be worth $896,000.00.

Your boy would be more worried about being a target for thieves than anything else. Because in the situation you're describing, an ounce of gold would be worth killing for.

So I think customs will be the least of his problems.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe