Algerian jeweller Salah Mennaoui, 67, was recently deported to his home country following surgery in Turkey after he was found to have illegally smuggled 290 banknotes worth 144,200 euros in his anal canal.
Last month, Mennaoui arrived in Istanbul from Algeria to buy gold. Because there was a limit to the amount of money he could carry across the border, he hid 288 banknotes worth 500 euros, as well as two banknotes worth 100 euros, in his anal cavity in the hopes of evading detection.
He was later unable to remove the banknotes and had to be rushed to a nearby private hospital after falling ill at his hotel in Istanbul. The doctors notified police after discovering the collection of 290 rolled banknotes in his anal cavity.
After the banknotes were surgically removed, Mennaoui was detained by police.
His banknotes were confiscated by an Istanbul court order.
Readers might recall a similar story involving a former Royal Canadian Mint employee taking place on Canadian soil last year.
On Feb. 2, 2017, a former Mint refinery operator was sentenced to 30 months in prison for stealing $165,000 worth of gold from the Crown corporation’s Ottawa facility.
The controversial inside job made international headlines when prosecutors claimed the accused—35-year-old Barrhaven resident Leston Lawrence—thwarted several layers of security by hiding gold pucks (worth about $6,800 each) inside his anal cavity. The court was told Lawrence brought small, circular chunks of gold, each weighing 210 grams, to Ottawa Gold Buyers in the Westgate Shopping Centre between November 2014 and March 2015.
Lawrence, who worked for the Mint for seven years before he was fired in March 2015, made a brief statement before Ontario Justice Peter Doody last February: “I’d just like to say thank you, sir, and that’s it. No further comment.”
Justice Doody ruled a “penitentiary sentence is required to express the denunciation,” adding Lawrence had stolen 22 gold pucks worth a total of $165,451.14.
“While he was certainly in a position of trust which he breached, he was not a senior managerial official,” added Doody at the Feb. 2, 2017 sentencing hearing. “So this is a blue-collar theft, not a white-collar theft.”
Lawrence was also found guilty of breach of trust and money laundering. Once he is released from prison, he will have three years to repay the market value of the gold—a total of $190,000—or face another sentence.
CONTAINER OF VASELINE
At a hearing on Nov. 9, the court was told Lawrence activated the Mint’s archway metal detector, which all secure-area employees must pass through, 28 times from Dec. 15, 2014-March 2, 2015; however, he was cleared with a secondary search via a hand-held wand each time.
The searches failed to produce any stolen gold, although investigators eventually found in Lawrence’s work locker a container of vaseline, which prosecutors claimed was used to hide the gold within his anal cavity.