Chinese Held at Sheremetyevo on Suspicion of Amber Smuggling

WikicommonsA fossilized tree resin, it is valued for its color and natural beauty and is often made into jewelery.

Police at Sheremetyevo Airport have detained five Chinese citizens on suspicion of trying to smuggle more than 400 kilograms of amber out of Russia, a police spokesman said Thursday.

On Wednesday, the suspects registered for a flight to Beijing and checked in 14 suitcases containing amber, each weighing at least 30 kilograms, the spokesman told Interfax.

But police had already been tipped off about the operation and honed in on the suspects, who hadn't filled in declarations about the contents of their baggage. One of them was held during customs checks, while the other four were detained prior to boarding.

Under Russian law, amber is considered a strategic material and its smuggling in large quantities is a crime.

The suspects face up to five years in prison if convicted.

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