‘Imposing quantity’ of uranium seized in raid on smugglers in Moldova (VIDEO)
Security services in Moldova have seized over $210,000 worth of uranium just before the radioactive material was smuggled out of the country. According to authorities, several suspects have been arrested during the raid in the capital, Chisinau.
The Moldovan Intelligence and Security Service said that “a criminal group specializing in smuggling radioactive substances was uncovered” during a police raid in Chisinau.
According to authorities, an “imposing quantity” worth some $210,000 of radioactive uranium has been seized.
The Prosecutor Office opened a criminal investigation into the case. Law enforcement is now trying to determine “the origin of radioactive materials, [and] the involvement of other persons in the criminal scheme.”
The statement did not mention the number of people who were detained by the authorities, but the video of the raid released by the authorities shows at least one person being tackled to the ground by the special forces. If found guilty, the criminals face three to 10 years behind bars.
A small package wrapped in foil found by authorities in the car showed over 70 millisievert (mSv) reading according to the portable radiation detection device. The footage also showed authorities confiscating what looks like a number of pistols and hunting knives.
This is not the first time that Moldovan authorities have prevented uranium smuggling. The trend is worrisome ever since reports emerged back in 2014 that Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) is aiming to develop dirty bombs.
Moldovan police working with the FBI reported to have stopped at least four attempts by smugglers to sell nuclear material to extremists in the Middle East over the past five years, AP claimed in October 2015.
In 2010, 1.8kg of Uranium-238 was seized in Chisinau when three people tried to sell the highly radioactive material for €9 million (US$10 million). The following year, security forces allegedly prevented the sale of 1kg of weapons-grade Uranium-235 when six people tried to sell it for €32 million.
In 2014, smugglers were looking sell 200g of Uranium-235 to undercover security agents for $1.6 million and 1.5kg of Uranium-235. And last year an undercover agent bought Caesium-135 samples, while materials contaminated with Caesium-137 were seized in central Chisinau.