I never realized that Boeing 777s had that much space behind the mirrors, but lavatories are a common hiding place for smugglers who do not want to use their own body cavities.
A man running a gold smuggling ring out of Singapore has pled guilty to corruption after airline check-in counter staff flipped on the operation. Apparently he wasn’t just shipping his gold as checked luggage, he was too cheap to pay the excess baggage fees (or thought overweight bags would raise more suspicion) and bribed counter staff to understate the weight of the bags on Tigerair flights to Chennai.
“(He) would … look for passengers travelling to Chennai – whether his friends or strangers – and ask if they were willing to carry gold to Chennai to pass to his relatives there.
“The accused’s relatives would then give these passengers a sum of money. The accused would go to Changi Airport between 15 and 20 times a month to look for passengers who were willing to carry gold for him to Chennai.”
Several airport employees – working for Sats and for UBTS – have been arrested in recent months and sentenced to seven to nine weeks of jail and fined between SG$500 and SG$800. If the smuggler hadn’t bribed check-in staff to understate the weight of his bags, he might not have been caught.
Smuggling gold in Asia and the Mideast is incredibly common. Spot prices can be high in India and Bangladesh (so there’s arbitrage) and it’s a way to smuggle illicit funds as we learned when a North Korean diplomat was discovered trying to bring $1.4 million in gold into Dhaka.