Venezuelans smuggle $5 million worth of gold in nose of plane, feds say

Customs officers find hidden gold bars on plane that landed in Fort Lauderdale

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Two men from Venezuela have been charged with smuggling an estimated $5 million worth of gold bars hidden inside the nose of a private plane that landed at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport last week.

The pilot, Victor Fossi Grieco, and passenger, Jean Carlos Sanchez Rojas, were arrested Friday in Fort Lauderdale after arriving from Caracas, Venezuela, according to a federal criminal complaint.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents noticed loose rivets on the plane's nose compartment and discovered numerous gold bars under a metal covering inside the nose, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Shauna Willard wrote in her affidavit.

Juan Charles Sanchez Rojas (left) and Victor Fossi Grieco have been charged after an estimated $5 million worth of gold bars were found hidden inside the nose of a plane in Fort Lauderdale.

Sanchez Rojas told officers he "obtained the gold from multiple sources in Venezuela" and intended to sell it in the U.S., Willard wrote. Sanchez Rojas went on to say he knew "the organization" had previously smuggled gold into the country and that he'd receive a fee for his involvement, Willard wrote.

Fossi Grieco told officers he met people in Venezuela to pick up the gold, storing it in the plane's nose for two days before the flight to Fort Lauderdale, Willard wrote. Fossi Grieco said he knew he would receive a commission for the successful delivery of the gold, Willard wrote.

Neither suspect reported the gold in their customs declarations, Willard wrote.

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