Illegal diamond, emerald trade channel shut in Bashkiria

RIA Novosti, Russia
Aug 5 2004


UFA, AUGUST 5 (RIA Novosti) – Operation of a criminal ring engaged
for a long time in illegal gemstones trade has been ended in
Bashkiria (federal republic in the southern Urals), the press service
of the FSB directorate for Bashkiria informed on Thursday.

According to the FSB, several residents of Sterlitamak arranged the
channel of delivery of diamonds and emeralds from fields in Siberia
and the Ural region.

The FSB has carried out the operation “check purchase”, placing its
agent as a wholesale buyer.

As a result, three persons have been detained, and natural diamonds
and an emerald (total weight 35 grammes, or 150 carats) were seized.
On fact of the illegal turnover the republican prosecutor’s office
has begun a criminal case.

Investigation has found that, alongside illegal trade in gemstones in
Bashkiria, the group arranged their transportation to the Krasnodar
region to be smuggled out to Armenia for cutting.

The criminals brought in gems themselves or through couriers. Their
close relatives were engaged in this or that way, selling gems or
securing the deals, the FSB press service said. The network
functioned smoothly for three years.